Cancer experts want amendment to outdated narcotics law
In a bid to give a proper thrust to fight against cancer, its experts have urged members of parliament and political parties to help in quick passage of the bill amending the existing law on narcotics to help ease the process of procuring morphine for terminally ill patients.
According to Sushma Bhatnagar of the anaesthesiology, pain and palliative care department at Dr. B.R.A. Institute Rotary Cancer Hospital under the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, “We should not miss this opportunity to make a difference to millions of patients across the country and (I) urge all political parties and our members in parliament to help pass the bill.”
Morphine is not available for patients who require it because of the strict rules under the NDPS Act. Under the act, a license is needed to procure morphine which hospitals try to avoid as it costs a lot of time and energy.
According to the Indian Cancer Congress and the Indian Association of Palliative Care, India is one of the largest producers of morphine in the world, but exports it to the developed countries for the benefit of patients there.
It is noted that as per the national policy on NDPS released by Finance Minister P. Chidambaram in February last year, the medical use of morphine has been extremely low in India and as a result, thousands of patients suffer from avoidable pain.
The policy also states that the use of morphine in India is one-thousandth of the global consumption.
The policy highlights the international narcotic control board’s recommendation to improve availability of opioid analgesics (pain relievers that act on the nervous system) for medical purposes and the need for India to address impediments such as simplification of NDPS rules.