Friday, February 15, 2013

Ukraine - Breakthrough for Cancer Pain

On February 13, 2013, Human Rights Watch published an article regarding an improvement in healthcare in Ukraine.  Oral morphine, a strong pain killer, was registered for use in the country on the first of February.  The World Health Organization stated that the use of oral morphine, a pain killer usually used for intense cancer pain, will dramatically improve end-of-life care.  While this drug has been available to most countries, Ukraine's recent registration will allow Interchem, a pharmaceutical company in Odessa, to begin the production of morphine tablets.
The World Health Organization considers oral morphine to be an integral part of cancer treatment.  So, one may ask, why has Ukraine been using injectable morphine instead of oral.  The answer is that the producer of injectable morphine currently holds a monopoly on the medication in Ukraine.  Not only does this withhold the proper medication for cancer care, it also withholds other drugs and treatment methods such as analgesic patches.  While these patches are available in most pharmaceutical stores, patients must pay for them out-of-pocket, and the price of the medicine is a prohibitor in itself.
The registration for oral morphine is a great improvement in Ukraine's medical system.  Compared to injectable morphine, oral morphine is better regarding end-of-life care.  These morphine tablets are expected to be released to the public in March 2013.  These tablets will finally bring an end to Ukrainian patients living and dying a severe, painful death.  However, while the medication available in Ukraine will improve, the country still struggles from poor medical training and drug control regulation.  With this new medicine available, Ukraine's inadequate healthcare system will need improvement.  However, registering oral morphine is a positive step in the right direction!

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