Estimated world requirements of narcotic drugs for 1957


Legal trade in narcotics in 1956(concluded)


Pages: 44 to 44
Creation Date: 1957/01/01

Estimated world requirements of narcotic drugs for 1957

In pursuance of the International Convention of 13 July 1931 the Drug Supervisory Body publishes an annual statement of the estimated world requirements of narcotic drugs. This statement also includes estimates for the narcotic drugs brought under international control by virtue of the Protocol of 19 November 1948.

The Bulletin published, in Vol. VIII, No. 1, a table showing for the most important narcotic drugs what the world estimates had been from 1950 to 1955, together with the actual figures of production for these drugs from 1950 to 1954. The following table shows the world estimates for the same drugs for 1957, together with the actual figures of production for them in 1955, the last year for which statistics have been published by the Board. The figures on production have been taken from the Report to the Economic and Social Council on the work of the Permanent Central Opium Board in 1956[1] and the figures on estimates as well as the comments have been taken from the document "Estimated World Requirements of Narcotic Drugs in 1957" published by the Supervisory Body (Doc. E/DSB/14, 15 December 1956).


Production in 1955

Estimated world requirements for 1957

88 340 100 088
139 135
2 307 2 877
76 785 86 509
5 821 7 067
2 583 2 311
14 543 14 929
461 696

Incomplete (most but not all countries have furnished statistics).

Generally speaking, the estimates exceed the actual production and the Supervisory Body has stated repeatedly that the habit of sending over-estimates does not serve any useful purpose since governments are allowed by the Convention the possibility of submitting supplementary estimates amending any inadequate estimates. For the present year, the Supervisory Body notes that this habit of sending over-estimates seems to have receded - for instance, for morphine and codeine the estimates from 1952 - 1955 exceeded actual requirements by only 16% to 25%. In the case of cocaine, the over-estimate fell from 53% for 1952 to 32% for 1955 while for pethidine the difference was reduced from 49% to 19% in the same period. That being the case, it will be seen that any downward trend observed in the estimates can very well be not a drop in actual requirements, but merely an indication that the estimates have been drawn up more accurately. The Supervisory Body considers that it will be difficult to define a clear trend in the fluctuations from year to year of the amount of the estimates submitted by the various countries and territories during the last five years: the only conclusion would be that some drugs such as thebaine and pholcodine show a stable trend whereas there is an upward trend in the case of dihydrocodeine and a definite downward trend in the case of diacetylmorphine, hydromorphone, cocaine, pethidine, ketobemidone, isomethadone, phenadoxone and levorphanol.

Legal trade in narcotics in 1956 (concluded)


Other features of the Board's report include an account of the supervision of the licit movement of narcotic drugs, some remarks on the illicit traffic and the confiscations effected on account of illicit import or export, a comparative study of pethidine and morphine consumption in a number of selected countries, a note on the present state of ratifications of the Protocol of 19 November 1948 and a statement concerning international non-proprietary names for drugs.


In its scrutiny of the licit movement of narcotic drugs since the publication of its last report, the Board has found that on the whole the international conventions have been satisfactorily applied. It should be pointed out first, however, that in respect of certain large areas the Board receives little or no information and, secondly, that the effectiveness of an ex post facto control such as is exercised by the Board necessarily varies from one substance to another.

Opium, for example, is a product the moisture content, and therefore the weight, of which is a variable factor, which makes comparison of statistics a somewhat uncertain business. Most of the statistics of the coca leaf producing countries - which are in any case incomplete for 1955 - are based merely on estimates of varying dependability rather than on verified facts. In the case of cannabis, the reporting of production and stocks is not compulsory under the conventions. On the other hand, the data which the Board possesses for "manufactured" drugs are much more comprehensive and accurate.

Subject to the foregoing qualifications, it may be said that the countries which supplied complete statistics - and most countries did so - have duly accounted for their supply of narcotic drugs, and that while diversions from the licit market to the illicit traffic may well have occurred, the amounts involved must have been comparatively small.

It follows that the main source of supply for the illicit traffic is a production which is itself illicit and this is sufficiently large to meet the demand of millions of addicts throughout the world.

Of all the aspects of the campaign against the illicit traffic and drug addiction, the elimination of the actual sources of illicit supply is obviously still the most important.


Incomplete (most but not all countries have furnished statistics).


1 See above, << Legal trade in narcotics in 1955 >>.