PAE’s letter to ECDD – October 2017

Pain Alliance Europe (PAE) is a pan European umbrella organisation of 37 national/ regional associations involved with chronic pain regardless any underlying condition.  PAE represent over 350,000 individual patients with chronic pain on the European level.

During its existence, PAE has proved to be a reliable and dedicated partner working in the best interests of individual chronic pain patients. From this position, PAE has developed a statement on the use of opioids for chronic pain patients.

We have noticed that within the WHO, the ECDD is holding a consultation on the use of medications which are also used in the treatment of chronic pain. The published list includes fentanyl products, pregabalin, and tramadol. These medications are used or also used for the treatment of pain/chronic pain.

Chronic pain has a devastating impact on the quality of life for individual patients, for their near ones and on society in general. Any treatment option to reduce this impact on individual level should be embraced and rolled out globally

In reference to PAE’s position on opioids, we want to make clear to the ECDD that the use of medications for chronic pain should be primarily a choice that is made between the patient and his physician.

Authorities involved in the approval for medication or involved in the re-evaluation of these medications should only take under consideration whether the medications are, in general, safe for the group of patients for whom they were developed. Any possible side effects should be judged in relation to the improvement of the quality of life of the patient. As this is mainly something which can be judged by the individual patient alongside his physician the authorities, of which the ECDD is one, should take a very limited position on that.

Any kind of misuse, abuse or other criminal activity should not play a role in the decision regarding the availability of medications.  This is for the very simple and basic reason that those criminal activities will not stop when such medications are withdrawn from the list of possible options. They will appear on the black market and will cause much more damage and greater problems to society and to patients who, in their desperation, are looking for a release from their chronic pain.

Patients’ improvement of the quality of life, his safety and his possibility of participating in society should be the only criteria which authorities should take into consideration.

We urge the ECDD to act according to that, in order to make sure that individual patients do not become the innocent victims of criminal behavior by others. Do not punish the patient twice by denying him therapy options which could be of benefit for him.

It would be a shame if medication intended to improve the quality of life of globally over 1,000,000,000 patients were to be denied because of criminal behavior by people interested only in financial gain. That will be seen by the patients as a reward for such criminal behavior and raising more potential criminals for gaining more profit.

If it is considered desirable, PAE is always willing to discuss this topic with the ECDD.


Pain Alliance Europe

Joop van Griensven