Balance, Pain

“Freedom from Pain” a revealing expose of the global under-treatment of pain.

As a professor at a major university, I am always interested in creative teaching situations.

One such opportunity came with an invitation to join a group of journalism students from the University of British Colombia’s School of Journalism on a trip to the Ukraine. Under the guidance of Peter Klein, a award winning journalist and a former 60 minutes producer, students of the International Reporting Program work on a Global issue of significance. This year they chose the global story of untreated pain.

It was an honor and privilege to work with them, they learning about palliative care from me and I learning so much about Journalism from them.  Communication was in fact the area of great overlap, with that being an area of critical importance to both fields.

The documentary premiered on Al Jazeera English last night in their program “People and Power.”   I encourage you to watch this documentary, share it with your colleagues, administrators, government officials and your students.  These UBC students are clearly making a difference!!!

The film can be seen below or at  Al Jazeera: or through the Al Jazeera English YouTube Channel.

About Pain policy & palliative care

Improving global pain relief by achieving balanced access to opioids worldwide


4 thoughts on ““Freedom from Pain” a revealing expose of the global under-treatment of pain.

  1. The unnecessary suffering of those patients is so heartbreaking.

    Posted by Noelle LoConte | July 21, 2011, 11:39 AM
  2. It is very difficult to watch people suffer needlessly because of overly restrictive opioid regulations.

    But if you consider the immense pain and suffering caused by the epidemic of opioid analgesic addiction and overdose deaths hitting the U.S., Canada and Australia (where lax opioid regulations and aggressive marketing for chronic non-cancer pain have led to overconsumption of opioids) it’s hard to say that we’re better off.

    Of course… it’s impossible to compare the pain felt by a parent, when their child dies of a drug overdose, with the pain felt by a woman with metastatic breast ca who’s denied access to morphine.

    The answer here is to find the right balance.

    Posted by Andrew Kolodny | July 21, 2011, 1:51 PM
  3. John,

    Thanks for asking. Pasted below are sources from the U.S., Canada, and Australia. The U.S. source is from the United States Center for Disease Control (CDC). The CDC is actually referring to the problem as the “worst drug epidemic U.S. history”. You should definitely check out the link to the first source. There’s an excellent CDC grand rounds lecture from a couple of months ago that you can watch on video.

    You might be interested to know that the epidemic was caused in part by leaders in the field of palliative medicine teaming up with the pharm industry to promote opioids for chronic non-cancer pain. I hope you will agree that advocacy to improve palliative care and opioid regulations in developing nations needs to be handled carefully (and preferably without financial support from opioid drug makers).

    If you’re interested in this topic, you can find more information on the following website:

    Here are the sources:

    “Prescription Drug Overdoses: An American Epidemic”

    Deaths related to the use of prescription opioids”

    Increasing deaths involving oxycodone, Victoria, Australia, 2000-09.

    I very much appreciate your interest in this topic.

    Posted by Andrew Kolodny | July 23, 2011, 11:01 PM

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