Report: 26 million worldwide dying in pain without painkillers
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iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The U.S. may be suffering from an opioid epidemic, but worldwide nearly 26 million people are dying in pain because they can’t access affordable palliative care.

According to a new report in The Lancet, the solution could be an off-patent three cent morphine tablet – wildly available in the United States, but often difficult to come by and much more expensive overseas.

“The pain gap is a massive global health emergency which has been ignored, except in rich countries,” says Dr. Felicia Knaul, chair of The Lancet Commission and Professor at the Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine at the University of Miami.

Of the hundreds of tons of opioid painkillers distributed worldwide, only about 4 percent of the painkillers go to low and middle-income countries.

According to Knaul, fixing the problem is straightforward, but requires governments and drug companies to work together to help the most vulnerable.

“We have the right tools and knowledge and the cost of the solution is minimal. Denying this intervention is a moral failing, especially for children and patients at the end of life,” Knaul says.

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