As the United States tackles the challenge of opioid painkiller addiction, people in many parts of the world are suffering from pain because doctors are reluctant to prescribe opioids.
Opioids are restricted, and often unavailable, in most poor and middle-incomes countries, even for patients with AIDS, terminal cancer or serious war wounds, according to The New York Times.
Many doctors in Russia, India and Mexico are fearful they could be prosecuted or subject to other legal problems if they prescribe opioids, the article notes.
Health officials in Kenya recently authorized the production of morphine after it was revealed that the painkiller was only available in seven of the nation’s 250 public hospitals. The advocacy group Human Rights Watch reported earlier this year that only a small percentage of doctors in Morocco are allowed to prescribe opioid painkillers. The country’s law on controlled substances identifies opioids as poisons.