For information only - not an official document

  17 March 2020


The International Narcotics Control Board calls on governments to ensure continued access to controlled medicines for pain relief and palliative care and for mental health and neurological conditions during the COVID-19 pandemic

VIENNA, 17 March (United Nations Information Service) - The International Narcotics Control Board is calling on governments to ensure that the international supply chains of controlled substances, such as pain relief medicines, 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.

The International Narcotics Control Board is mandated to ensure the availability of internationally controlled substances for medical and scientific purposes and, with the assistance of its Vienna-based secretariat, is closely following the developments related to the COVID-19 pandemic and any possible impact on the international supply chain for these substances.

The President of the Board, Cornelis P. de Joncheere, has already assured Governments that the Board will continue to assist competent national authorities in the functioning of the system of international trade in controlled substances and has reminded Governments that in acute emergencies, it is possible to utilize simplified control procedures for the export, transportation and provision of medicinal products containing controlled substances. Competent national authorities may permit the export of medicines containing narcotic drugs and/or psychotropic substances to affected areas even in the absence of the corresponding import authorizations and/or estimates. Urgent deliveries do not need to be included in the estimates of the receiving countries affected by emergencies.

The INCB secretariat is available to assist competent national authorities in these matters, as necessary.


INCB is the independent, quasi-judicial body charged with promoting and monitoring Government compliance with the three international drug control conventions: the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, the 1971 Convention on Psychotropic Substances, and the 1988 Convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances. Established by the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs of 1961, the thirteen members of the Board are elected in a personal capacity by the Economic and Social Council for terms of five years. 

* *** *

For further information, please contact:

INCB Secretariat
Tel.: (+43-1) 26060-4163
Email: incb.secretariat[at]

©1995-2022 International Narcotics Control Board