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Punjab’s first model de-addiction centre running without vital pills

The centre requires a total of 10,000 tablets of Buprenorphine and Naloxone per month, but it had received only 3,000 in June and none in July

punjab Updated: Jul 26, 2018 10:27 IST
Anil Sharma
Anil Sharma
Hindustan Times, Amritsar
de-addiction centre,vital pills,Punjab
Swami Vivekanand De-addiction and Treatment Centre at medical college in Amritsar.(Sameer SehgalHT)

The state’s first model de-addiction centre in Amritsar is running without medicines that are vital to treat the addicts. Currently, the 50-bedded centre has 40 in-patients who are not being treated properly due to a gross shortage of Buprenorphineand Naloxone tablets.

In July 2015, the then SAD-BJP (Shiromani Akali Dal-Bharatiya Janata Party) government had inaugurated the Swami Vivekanand De-addiction and Treatment Centre, constructed at the cost of ₹5 crore, at the Government Medical College in Amritsar.

Medical officer and centre in-charge Dr Rajive Arora said Buprenorphineand Naloxone are vital tablets to treat the addicts admitted here, but we are facing a shortage of these medicines.

“In total, we require at least 10,000 Buphrenorphine and Naloxone tablets per month. In June, we had received only 3,000 tablets and in July there was no supply,” he said.

“We are managing with some substitute medicines, but these are not as effective as Buphrenorphine and Naloxone. We have been writing to the department every month to send the medicines, but in vain. All government-run de-addiction centres in the state, are facing a shortage of the said medicines,” he added.

‘No shortage at pvt centres’

Dr Arora said that the private de-addiction centres are not facing any such shortage. They are charging ₹350-400 per pack of pills from the patients admitted at their facilities.

“They are even giving these tablets to take home and for their outdoor patients, while we are not allowed to do the same,” he added.

Another doctor at the Amritsar centre, on condition of anonymity, said, “With an intention of benefitting the private centres, the health department has not been providing the required medicines to the government-run de-addiction centres. As a result, the poor patients feel harassed.”

Tramadol tablets also needed

On Tuesday, the HT team visited the centre and found that outpatients visiting the centre for medicines were given sleeping pills.

Dr Arora said that they had been giving Tramadol tablets — derivative of opium — to the outpatients till Monday. “Now, even the stock of these tablets has finished. So, we are giving sleeping pills to the patients,” he said.

He added that they need around 60,000 Tramadol tablets per month as 200-300 outpatients visit the centre for these medicines. “We are putting forward a demand for this medicine as well and are hoping to receive them soon,” he said.

“However, one must know that giving Tramadol to the patients is not a treatment. It is a substitute for drugs and is used to keep the patients’ yearning in check, temporarily,” said Dr Arora.

Patients, kin worried

A 22-year-old patient who visited the centre with his mother from Bal Kalan village for the medicines said, “I used to take heroin/smack. Earlier I was given Tramadol as it was keeping me stable, but now all I get is sleeping pills. What should I do? I’m forced to take heroin or smack.”

An aged patient, who visited the centre from Fatehgarh village, said, “I am a labourer and cannot visit the OOAT centres daily for these medicines. I’m habitual to taking 20 Tramadol medicines daily, but doctors here refused to give me the medicines as it is out of stock.”

Social activist Harikrishan Arora said, “Instead of giving Tramadol drug, the state government should provide Buphrenorphine and Naloxone tablets to the patients who cannot visit the OOAT centres daily.”

First Published: Jul 26, 2018 10:18 IST