Aims & goals
The overall goal of this project is to undertake applied research into the reasons why opioid medicines for moderate to severe pain and for the treatment of opioid dependence are not used adequately in 12 European countries, and to elaborate and disseminate tailor-made recommendations to each country for improving the accessibility, availability and affordability of controlled medicines, and disseminate these to governments, health-care professionals, other key decision-making bodies as well as to the general public.
The overall goal will be implemented through three specific objectives.
- Specific objective 1:
- To undertake a national situational analysis in 12 European countries with regard to access to controlled medicines, including their availability, rational use, and causes for underuse; and to make recommendations to their national governments for improvements. This specific objective will be implemented through work packages 1-6.
- Specific objective 2:
- To undertake an external review of relevant national legislation in 12 European countries and recommend, in compliance with the international drug conventions, appropriate amendments to governments in order to improve access for legitimate and rational use of controlled medicines. This specific objective will be implemented through work packages 6-9.
- Specific objective 3:
- To elaborate and introduce a research and monitoring tool for tracking and comparing the extent of opioid availability in the 12 target countries. This specific objective will be implemented through work package 10.
With a commitment of 2.45 million Euro over five years from the European Commission's 7th Framework Programme, the ten ATOME partners will work with the country teams, including government officials and public health and medicines experts, to carry out legislative and policy reviews, leading to recommendations that will facilitate access for all patients requiring treatment with medicines controlled under the international drug conventions.
This is in line with our ongoing work to improve access to these medicines worldwide. The potential benefits of this partnership extend well beyond palliative care. For example, there are around 3.7 million people who inject drugs in Europe, but only a minority has access to methadone therapy. Such therapy not only helps them manage their dependency, but also helps their social re-integration and prevents them using 'street drugs' which increase their risk of harm and lead to infections like HIV from needle sharing.
Willem Scholten, of the WHO Access to Controlled Medicines Programme
This is a very exciting project that will make a real difference to patients with cancer and their families and will help them to cope with the disease, enabling them to live their life without pain until the very end.
Professor Sheila Payne, Director of the International Observatory on End of Life Care at Lancaster University / President of the European Association for Palliative Care (EAPC)