Want morphine to be more accessible to patients: Govt in SC
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The Centre has told the Supreme Court it wants to make morphine, a painkiller for terminally-ill cancer patients, more accessible.
"Our stand is that we want to make it more accessible and available to patients. We understand the concerns regarding its accessibility as well as availability and hence we need to have more morphine," Additional Solicitor General Siddharth Luthra told a bench led by Justice Swatanter Kumar last week.
Because of its possible abuse by drug addicts, availability and sale of morphine preparations is restricted in India under the Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act. The painkiller, however, is widely used by cancer patients, of whom there are around 28 lakh in India at any given time, — nearly two-thirds of them in an advanced stage — according to the Indian Council for Medical Research.
The court noted that while making morphine more accessible was a priority, it had to ensure the drug was not misused. "Not different states should have different guidelines on the same subject. We understand your concern that it must be regulated. And hence, you will need to have master guidelines. Prepare a draft proposal on the issue," the court told Luthra.
The bench was hearing a PIL, filed by NGO Indian Association of Palliative Care in 2007, seeking that morphine be made more accessible to cancer patients. The NGO said the Finance Ministry had in 1998 recommended to states a model procedure for supply of drugs to cancer patients but it was not being followed.
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