Subject: Chronic pain and access to treatment
Chronic pain affects 20% of the European population, but remains poorly managed and undertreated. As well as affecting employment and the profitability of companies, pain, in its chronic form, may provoke varying degrees of disability and may cause anxiety and depression, including a heightened risk of suicide. Chronic pain sufferers in Europe are denied many recognised patient rights, including access to treatment, information and new technologies.
In 2011 the World Health Organisation (WHO) issued Policy Guidelines for Controlled Substances, which state that opioid analgesics are considered to be essential medicines and are indispensable for the treatment of moderate to severe pain. However, not all the Member States have policies that ensure access to this kind of treatment. The WHO guidelines provide advice on policies and legislation with regard to the availability, accessibility, affordability and supervision of controlled medicines.
1. Is the Commission aware of these data and of the WHO guidelines?
2. What measures is the Commission taking to ensure that the WHO guidelines are applied at national level?
3. Would the Commission consider facilitating the sharing of policy-related best practices between Member States with a view to preventing inequality of access to pain treatment in Europe?