INCB President holds consultations with Australian Assistant Minister for Health

New York, 18 April 2016 - Prior to the start of the 30th special session of the General Assembly on the World Drug Problem (UNGASS) at United Nations headquarters, the President of the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB), Mr. Werner Sipp, held consultations with The Hon. Ken Wyatt AM, Assistant Minister for Health and Aged Care of Australia and Head of his Government delegation to UNGASS. INCB Board member, Professor Richard Mattick, also contributed to the discussions.

Assistant Minister of Health, Ken Wyatt, and the President of the Board discussed the strong cooperation that exists between the Government of Australia, one of the world major producers of opium raw materials for the licit manufacture of pain relief medications, and INCB in ensuring the effective management of the international trade in controlled substances. 

The crisis of access to and availability of pain analgesics in various world regions was the focus of the exchange particularly with regard to what action Governments need to take to address the situation and the role of the international community in providing assistance. The need to enhance knowledge among health care professionals, competent regulatory authorities and other actors was paramount. It was noted that the Board's special report on Availability of Internationally Controlled Drugs: Ensuring Adequate Access for Medical and Scientific  and its pro-active recommendations were a welcomed addition to the instruments available to tackle the situation and should be studied and implemented by Governments. In this context, the contribution made by the Board to raising awareness among health care professionals through the publication of a peer-reviewed article based on its special report in The Lancet earlier this year was a welcome departure.

Also discussed were the important contributions being made by Australia various international cooperation initiatives, including those being conducted by INCB to enhance the capacity of national competent authorities responsible for estimating domestic requirements and regulating national licit supply for medicines containing controlled substances in several regions of the world. 

Reference was also made to the recently launched electronic system to facilitate and expedite international trade in such medicines containing controlled substances, I2ES, developed by INCB. It was noted that the wider adoption of I2ES by countries should have a positive impact in this field over time.

Exploring dialogue and cooperation with the producers of medicines to ensure the manufacture of affordable opioid analgesics, particularly to attend to the growing need for palliative care around the world, was noted as an area for further future action between Governments and industry.

On the emergence of new psychotropic substances (NPS) emphasis was placed on the need to promote the exchange of information to enable action to prevent these substances from reaching abuse markets. The Australian delegation referred to the contribution being made in this area by INCB Project Ion and its platform for the exchange of information, IONICS, noting that more Governments should seek to join these activities. 

Concluding their exchanges, Assistant Minister Wyatt and President Sipp noted that following UNGASS greater emphasis and action would need to be directed to the prevention of drug abuse as well as the treatment, rehabilitation and reintegration of those affected by it.

From left to right: The Hon. Ken Wyatt AM, Assistant Minister for Health and Aged Care of Australia, Mr. Werner Sipp, INCB President and Prof. Richard Mattick, INCB Board Member

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