Amendment of NDPS Act makes oral morphine accessible
The recent amendment of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act is promising to deliver cancer patients from pain as it makes oral morphine accessible in the State.
Hitherto, cancer patients from districts needing medical morphine had no choice but to travel to MNJ Cancer Hospital in Hyderabad for the drug. That too, the drug was ‘rationed’ and they had to come back after a month, when their stocks ran out.
However, things are looking up with regulation of medical morphine simplified.
Now all government palliative care centres can stock required quantities of medical morphine by applying to one single agency i.e. Drug Control Administration (DCA).
Before the amendment, hospitals had to obtain permission from five departments including health, excise, police, transport, DCA and even Department of Commerce when morphine had to be imported. The permission to stock morphine was only given for three months. Stockists had to apply again to all departments for fresh licences after the expiry date.
The amendment is the result of a decade long effort of the authorities of MNJ Cancer Hospital. “The drug is vital for poor cancer patients because medical morphine is cheap compared to other such drugs. Patients from districts need not come to Hyderabad for it,” said Dr. G. Durga Prasad, in-charge of Department of Pain and Palliative Care, MNJ Cancer Institute.
Research has proved that morphine is considered to be a ‘gold standard’ among opiod analgesics and is on the essential drug list of WHO for management of cancer-related pain.
A 10 mg morphine tablet would cost anywhere from 0.70 to 0.90 paisa at government hospitals whereas drugs manufactured by private companies with similar pain relieving properties cost about Rs. 350 to 500 per mg.
Since a majority of district government doctors are untrained to handle morphine based drugs, the MNJ Hospital has taken up training. “We have been training them for the past two years and also helping them to handle cases,” Dr. Prasad said.