Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic

Last updated: 30 April 2020

Message from the President of the INCB on the COVID-19 pandemic

Over the past few weeks, the world has been subjected to an unprecedented challenge. People in most parts of the globe have been experiencing severe changes to their daily lives and freedoms, and are having to adapt to the new measures being put in place by governments seeking to contain the spread of this virus and protect the health of their peoples.

The social and economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is profound, particularly for those who are the most vulnerable, whether because of age, health or socio-economic conditions.

During this global crisis, I cannot stress enough that it remains essential for governments to ensure continued access to controlled medicines for all COVID-19 related medical needs and also for other ongoing critical medical needs such as those related to pain relief and palliative care for oncological treatments, for mental health and neurological conditions, the treatment of drug use disorders and non-communicable diseases, to mention just a few of situations in which continued and assured access to controlled medicines remains essential. The Board continues to call on all countries and territories to ensure the maintenance of sufficient buffer stocks of controlled substances to guarantee availability of those medicines throughout the duration of the pandemic.

I would like to express my deep appreciation to the competent national authorities of all countries. With public-health measures in place and significant reductions in available staffing and the constraints imposed by remote working, you continue to do your level best to ensure continuity of the licit international trade in medicines containing controlled substances, which will undoubtedly help those in need and save lives.

Throughout the pandemic, regardless of its duration, I assure Governments that the Board and its secretariat will continue providing assistance, and I encourage competent national authorities to remain in close contact with the Board and its secretariat.

The commitment and values people across the globe have shown over the past few weeks will enable us to overcome this crisis and its immense implications for the future.

Best wishes to all,

Cornelis P. de Joncheere
President of the International Narcotics Control Board

COVID-19 is the infectious disease caused by the most recently discovered coronavirus. This new virus and disease were unknown before the outbreak began in Wuhan, China, in December 2019. The World Health Organization (WHO) determined that the outbreak of Coronavirus (COVID-19) was a pandemic on 11 March 2020.

The latest developments related to this global health emergency are available on a dedicated UN website, through UN News and from WHO.

Monitoring COVID-19 through the WHO Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) Situation Dashboard.

Press Releases / WEB STORIES

INCB support to Governments during the COVID-19 pandemic

In view of the COVID-19 pandemic, INCB is continuing to ensure the functioning of the international system for trade in controlled substances, pursuant to the three international drug control conventions.

Measures are in place to ensure that the Board and its Vienna-based secretariat can - regardless of any local restrictions in place to contain the pandemic - continue to assist competent national authorities in the functioning of the system of international trade in controlled substances.

Availability of medicines containing internationally controlled substances

The International Narcotics Control Board is calling on governments to ensure that the international supply chains of controlled substances, such as pain relief medicines and medicines for neurological and mental health disorders, including for the treatment of drug use disorders, are not disrupted by measures put in place to counter the COVID-19 pandemic and contain further transmission of the virus.

The Board also calls on the competent national authorities of all countries and territories to ensure the maintenance of sufficient buffer stocks of controlled substances to guarantee availability of those medicines throughout the duration of the pandemic. Suppliers and distributers play a crucial role in ensuring that internationally controlled substances urgently needed for medical treatment remain available within and across national borders.

INCB calls on governments to be alert regarding the sale of falsified or substandard medicines within their territories, including through the internet, and to inform the public to be vigilant.

INCB systems to facilitate licit international trade in controlled substances, while preventing their diversion to illicit channels, continue to operate.

Contingency measures during the COVID-19 pandemic have been put in place within the International Import and Export Authorization System (I2ES), available to all registered users - connect to I2ES.

Information for competent national authorities in registering to use I2ES can be found at connect to I2ES.

Secure Portal for Governments

In addition to information provided above, any guidance issued by the Board specifically for competent national authorities is being placed on the secure portal for Governments, available here.

Contact the INCB Secretariat

The INCB secretariat is available to assist competent national authorities and can be contacted at: incb.secretariat@un.org

©1995-2020 International Narcotics Control Board