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Russia Has an Opioid Crisis Too – One of Untreated Pain

Maria Danilova
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A Stark Contrast

  • The opioid crisis in the United States and other Western countries is well-documented and troubling
  • The Western crisis was caused by overprescription of narcotic analgesics
  • Russia, however, has the opposite problem: many with painful illnesses are left in severe pain due to a repressive drug control system

The Mother Teresa of Russia

  • One woman, Lidia Moniava, set out to tackle this issue by founding the Lighthouse children's hospice
  • Born into a family of intelligentsia, Moniava's quest to help the suffering started early
  • While in high school, her volunteer work with young cancer patients sparked a passion
  • Moniava and her allies have led a campaign that have slowly eased drug control laws such as:
    • Doctors are no longer required to return empty vials and patches
    • Patients can receive two-week supplies of drugs
    • Doctors making house calls are now allowed to carry narcotics in their medical bags

A Systemic Problem

  • Russia's repressive drug control policy has roots in the Soviet Union, and cancer and other pain patients have paid the price
  • The anti-narcotics arm of the government has a well-documented corruption problem
  • Supply is a huge issue in Russia, and police choose to pick low-hanging fruit by cracking down on legally-prescribed medication rather than black-market supply
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