INCB: The Global Drugs Scene

Publication Date01 Mar 2000
AuthorD.C. Jayasuriya
SubjectAccounting & finance
INCB: The Global Drugs Scene
C. Jayasuriya
Journal of Financial Crime Vol. 8 No. 1 International
The International Narcotics Control Board (INCB)
a mechanism established under the international
drug control treaties and consisting of 13 members
elected by the Economic and Social Council is
mandated to publish an annual report on the current
and emerging drug control situation. Each year's
report comments on a special theme; freedom from
pain and suffering is the focus of the report released
on 23rd February, 2000.1
The report dispels the popular misconception that
the three international drug control treaties the
Single Convention on Narcotics Drugs 1961, the
the Convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic
Drugs and Psychotropic Substances 1988 are
intended to prohibit the use of all drugs that can
cause addiction. The treaties are structured on the
assumption that most of these drugs are nevertheless
useful for medical and scientific purposes and that
they must be made available for legitimate purposes,
while restricting the possibility of their abuse or
misuse. The treaties thus provide for a delicate bal-
ance based on a system of assessment of the quantities
needed, supplemented by manufacturing/import/
export quotas and controls as are applicable under
the treaties for different categories of drugs.
In the mid-1980s the Cancer Programme of the
World Health Organization (WHO) highlighted
the fact that millions of cancer patients needlessly
suffer from pain because many countries are under
the misconception that pain killers under inter-
national control cannot be obtained or prescribed.
Since then both the INCB and WHO have been
addressing this issue.
According to WHO projections, by the year 2015
there will be 10 million new cancer cases per year in
developing countries. Some 70-80 per cent of cancer
patients suffer from moderate to severe pain.
Research has shown that up to 90 per cent of patients
with pain can benefit from orally administered
opioids (for example, morphine, pethidine and
codeine). While several countries have facilitated
access to pain killers, the INCB estimates that in
some 120 countries there is little or no opioid con-
sumption. There is no evidence that facilitating
access to pain killers necessarily results in diversion
or abuse to an extent that warrants the imposition
of additional controls.
Countries often state a variety of reasons as to why
pain killers are not made available to those who need
them for medical purposes.2 Among these reasons
are outdated laws and restrictive regulations,
cumbersome administrative procedures, concerns
about diversions and the consequences of inadvertent
concerns about iatrogenic addiction, and
inadequate or insufficient training of health person-
As in the past, the present report too contains
recommendations for reviewing systems in place so
that needed drugs can be made accessible subject to
safeguards to minimise misuse.
According to estimates, 75 per cent of the world
production of opium takes place in Afghanistan.
The latest survey shows that 97 per cent of the area
under opium poppy cultivation was on territory
controlled by the Taliban. The INCB notes that:
'The commitment of the Taliban in Afghanistan to
ban opium poppy cultivation and heroin manufac-
ture remains questionable, as it continues to collect
taxes on the opium poppy crop that is harvested
and the heroin that is manufactured.'
The Central Asian republics, Pakistan, Turkey and
the Islamic Republic of Iran are increasingly used as
transit points for opiates originating in Afghanistan
and destined for Europe and other parts of the
world. In order to manufacture heroin in Afghani-
stan, the drug industry spares no effort to divert
Journal of Financial Crime
Vol 8, No
pp. 87-69
© Henry Stewart Publications
ISSN 0969-6458
Page 87

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