By International Narcotics Control Board. Opioid analgesics like morphine are indispensable for the treatment of pain caused by cancer, HIV/AIDS, cardiovascular disease, chronic respiratory disease, diabetes, childbirth, surgery, injuries and other conditions or situations. INCB estimates that 92 per cent of morphine is consumed in countries in which only 17 per cent of the world population lives (United States, Canada, countries in Western Europe, Australia and New Zealand). At the same time, 75 per cent of the world population, predominantly in lower-income countries, is left with limited or no access to proper pain relief. The increase in global consumption of opioid analgesics since 1991 seems to have been driven mainly by North America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand, where there has been growing concern about prescription drug abuse.

Low levels of consumption of opioid analgesics in some countries and regions does not seem to be to the result of a lack of supply of opiate raw materials and opioids. Data available to INCB indicate that global demand is fully met—and, based on submitted estimates, is expected to continue to be met—by the global production of opiate raw materials, the increasing manufacture of narcotic drugs, and growing stocks.

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