Non-availability of morphine and other opioid painkillers is a major deterrent in the palliative care of patients who suffer from chronic diseases such as cancer, heart diseases, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, HIV and geriatric diseases, say doctors and patients who celebrated World Hospice and Palliative Care Day on Saturday.
Palliative care is an approach that improves the quality of life of patients with chronic life-threatening illness, through the prevention and relief of suffering.
The scarcity is due to the Narcotics and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act, under which morphine is defined as a narcotic, a hospital or chemist procuring the drug must have a transport permit as well as an interstate import and export permit. These permits have to be arranged every month.
“We would like the government to issue us yearly licenses,” said Dr Maryann Muckaden, professor and head of palliative care, TMH. Apart from TMH stores, only three other chemists in the city store morphine.
On Wednesday, groups working with such patients met central government officials seeking amendments to the law .
“Slightest deviation of rules, such as a truck license number not stated in the registration form, can result in an arrest for a non-bailable offence,” said Dr Nagesh Simha, president, Indian Association of Palliative Care. “The government has been receptive.”