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September 2007
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Let them suffer

A disturbing article in the New York Times: Drugs Banned, Many of World‰s Poor Suffer in Pain

Like millions of others in the world‰s poorest countries, she is destined to die in pain. She cannot get the drug she needs Ö one that is cheap, effective, perfectly legal for medical uses under treaties signed by virtually every country, made in large quantities, and has been around since Hippocrates praised its source, the opium poppy. She cannot get morphine.
That is not merely because of her poverty, or that of Sierra Leone. Narcotics incite fear: doctors fear addicting patients, and law enforcement officials fear drug crime. Often, the government elite who can afford medicine for themselves are indifferent to the sufferings of the poor.
The World Health Organization estimates that 4.8 million people a year with moderate to severe cancer pain receive no appropriate treatment. Nor do another 1.4 million with late-stage AIDS. For other causes of lingering pain Ö burns, car accidents, gunshots, diabetic nerve damage, sickle-cell disease and so on Ö it issues no estimates but believes that millions go untreated.

Pain is dangerously under-treated in the United States, and yet…

In 2004, consumption of morphine per person in the United States was about 17,000 times that in Sierra Leone.

What kind of sick, sadistic drug policy would spend billions of dollars and countless lives to eradicate useful drugs, while doing nothing to help those in pain?
Oh yeah. Ours.

[Thanks, Jackl]

See also Jeralyn and Alex

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