By the University of California / Medical Press

If you're poor and terminally ill in southern Mexico, there's far less chance you'll get the painkillers you need for palliative care than your cousins in more prosperous regions, particularly those pharmacy-rich areas along Mexico-U.S. border, say UCLA researchers and colleagues who studied opioid dispensing levels across the country.

Despite a Mexican government initiative launched in 2015 to improve access to  among  patients, the country has seen only a marginal increase in dispensing levels, and inequities in dispensing have left many of the nation's poorest residents without comfort in their final days, said lead author Dr. David Goodman-Meza, an assistant professor of medicine in the infectious diseases division at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.

"People in the poorest areas of Mexico are dying in pain," Goodman-Meza said. "A lot of work needs to be done to increase access to opioids for those who have a medical need for them in Mexico."