WMA warns against making essential anaesthetic a controlled drug
The World Medical Association is urging its 111 member associations to lobby their governments to oppose scheduling the anaesthetic agent Ketamine as a controlled drug.6 Mar 2015
The World Medical Association is urging its 111 member associations to lobby their governments to oppose scheduling the anaesthetic agent Ketamine as a controlled drug.
The United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs is due to vote next Friday (March 13) on whether to schedule Ketamine because of concern about its use as an illicit recreational drug in many countries. But the WMA warns that if it is made a controlled drug, it would effectively prevent the drug’s use in many poor countries where it is the only alternative for short term pain relief in surgery.
Dr. Xavier Deau, President of the WMA, said: ‘We understand that the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs is concerned about Ketamine’s use as a recreational drug. However the action it is proposing would make the drug unavailable and increase the level of suffering for people in the most difficult of clinical circumstances.
‘We know from experience with other anaesthetics, especially pain medication, that the scheduling of drugs effectively prevents their use and that patients in poor countries and in rural settings are then unable to receive treatment with those drugs. So this is likely to further worsen the absence of drugs for anesthesia in many health care settings globally.’
The World Health Organisation has strongly advised against scheduling Ketamine. But the WMA is concerned the UN Commission may disregard this advice. It has now written to all its national medical association members urging them to contact their governments to oppose the change.
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