Press Releases

    For information only - not an official document

    17 March 2020

    The International Narcotics Control Board calls on governments to ensure continued access to controlled medicines for pain relief and palliative care and for mental health and neurological conditions during the COVID-19 pandemic

    VIENNA, 17 March (United Nations Information Service) - The International Narcotics Control Board is calling on governments to ensure that the international supply chains of controlled substances, such as pain relief medicines, are not disrupted by measures put in place to counter the COVID-19 pandemic and contain further transmission of the virus.

    The Board also calls on the competent national authorities of all countries and territories to ensure the maintenance of sufficient buffer stocks of controlled substances to guarantee availability of those medicines throughout the duration of the pandemic. Suppliers and distributers play a crucial role in ensuring that internationally controlled substances urgently needed for medical treatment remain available within and across national borders.

    The International Narcotics Control Board is mandated to ensure the availability of internationally controlled substances for medical and scientific purposes and, with the assistance of its Vienna-based secretariat, is closely following the developments related to the COVID-19 pandemic and any possible impact on the international supply chain for these substances.

    The President of the Board, Cornelis P. de Joncheere, has already assured Governments that the Board will continue to assist competent national authorities in the functioning of the system of international trade in controlled substances and has reminded Governments that in acute emergencies, it is possible to utilize simplified control procedures for the export, transportation and provision of medicinal products containing controlled substances. Competent national authorities may permit the export of medicines containing narcotic drugs and/or psychotropic substances to affected areas even in the absence of the corresponding import authorizations and/or estimates. Urgent deliveries do not need to be included in the estimates of the receiving countries affected by emergencies.

    The INCB secretariat is available to assist competent national authorities in these matters, as necessary.

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    For further information please contact:

    INCB Secretariat
    Telephone for media inquiries: (+43-1) 26060 4163
    Email:  incb.secretariat[at]