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A preliminary review of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) model drug control laws was conducted by the Pain & Policy Studies Group (PPSG) to determine whether the models provided governments with language they can use to carry out the obligation to ensure adequate availability of opioid analgesics for the relief of pain and suffering, specified in the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, 1961 as amended, and as recommended by the International Narcotics Control Board in 1995. The results showed that current model laws lack the drug availability provisions. Based on initial positive feedback from the International Narcotics Control Board, the UNODC, and the World Health Organization, the PPSG developed preliminary recommendations based on existing provisions in the Single Convention. The PPSG's main recommendation is that updated model laws are needed and that consideration should be given as to how to achieve this objective. The assessment is offered as a starting point for discussion. The World Health Organization (WHO) considers opioid analgesics to be essential for the treatment of pain, but there are great disparities in their availability among countries of the world, leading to needless pain and suffering. Over a period of 15 years of study and efforts to rectify these disparities, the PPSG has found that national narcotics control laws often do not contain provisions that recognize the dual obligation of governments under the international drug control conventions not only to control narcotic drugs but also to make them adequately available for medical and scientific purposes. International drug control organizations develop and publish model narcotics laws and regulations for governments to use. If these models convey the dual obligations of governments, the models would be considered "balanced," and national governments would have model policy language not only for control of licit drugs, but also for their availability. Most governments have already adopted laws to implement the Single Convention; however, it is not known if they followed the Single Convention itself or model laws. The PPSG conducted this preliminary assessment of whether the models published by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime are balanced, using as a guide the 1995 recommendations of the International Narcotics Control Board ( and the 2000 WHO publication Achieving Balance in National Opioids Control Policies: Guidelines for Assessment (


University of Wisconsin Pain & Policy Studies Group. Do international model drug control laws provide for drug availability? Journal of pain & palliative care pharmacotherapy. 2009;23(2):145-52

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PMID: 19492215

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