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Pain relievers for oncologic patients break through bureaucratic hurdles

September 26, 2014, 18:56 UTC+3 Alexandrova Lyudmila
© ITAR-TASS/Vladimir Smirnov

MOSCOW, September 26. /ITAR-TASS/. It happens once in a while that a personal tragedy brings into a limelight a dramatic situation which earlier was kept unnoticed, but in the long run was taken out of the deadlock. It was exactly the case which triggered a bill that makes it easier for sick people, including oncologic patients, to get pain relievers.

On Wednesday the State Duma passed the bill at first reading. The bill envisages that patients who need pain relievers are given priority access to medical assistance. A doctor's prescription for a pain reliever which until now has been valid for five days only, will be valid for 30 days after the bill comes into force.

Regrettably, the problem of access to pain relievers came into the limelight after a tragic death of Russian retired rear admiral Vyacheslav Apanasenko. Before he retired the rear admiral headed a missile artillery department of the Russian Navy and was Chief of the Navy armaments headquarters. Apanasenko took part in the Russo-US strategic weapons reduction talks.

On February, 7 2014 the retired admiral committed suicide. He was 66." I ask to blame no one, except the government and the health ministry. As for me, I can bear the tortures, but I can no longer withstand seeing my relatives and friends suffer", Apanasenko said in his death note.

After Apanasenko's suicide his daughter explained that her father had pancreas cancer and that his condition was hopeless. He decided to commit suicide, rather than see his relatives suffer because of bureaucratic hurdles they had to overcome all the time to get pain relievers for him, she said.

According to the 2010 data released by the International Narcotics Control Board, Russia was in 38th position in Europe and in the 82nd position in the world in terms of access to pain relievers.

A public uproar caused by Apanasenko's suicide spread nationwide. People have been wondering "what might happen to rank-and-file citizens even if the people entitled to honors have to suffer so much".

After inspections conducted at the Russian Health Ministry the instructions authorizing access to pain relievers are being amended in favor of patients who need pain relievers to survive.

Early in April Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev signed a resolution that facilitates the use of drugs and psychotropic substances for medical purposes.


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