Cancer Aid Society urges govt to relax norms on oral morphine to provide relief to cancer patients

The Cancer Aid Society of India has urged the government to relax norms with respect to availability and accessibility of oral morphine in the country as thousands of cancer patients are enduring immense pain due to non availability of oral morphine in the market, due to the stringent laws.

The Society has recently met senior officials in the union health ministry, to stress upon the need for the availability of oral morphine at select places to ensure pain relief for patients suffering from moderate to severe cancer pain.  Apprising the officials about the deplorable state of the cancer patients in the country, the Society said  that due to the stringent laws the cancer patients have to endure immense pain as oral morphine are not available in the market. 

Understanding the woes of the cancer patients across the country, the organisation has urged the government to relax its norms with respect to availability and accessibility of oral morphine by making it available at government run hospitals and medical colleges. The association also urged the government to train the doctors and healthcare professions on the pros and cons of the same so that they are administered to the patients very carefully.

They also put forth a recommendation to recognise certain clusters across the country, by either collaborating with NGOs and other healthcare centers, to administer oral morphine to cancer patients under strict supervision.  Since morphine comes under the category of narcotic drugs, under the Drugs and Cosmetics (D&C) Act, the availability of the same has become a huge issue for the healthcare providers and patients. Especially since only a select few chemists are given the special license to stock and dispense this medicine.

“Cancer patients undergo severe psychological stress due to the onslaught of this deadly disease, which is a life changing event in itself.  Making matters worse is the pain associated with it, which becomes severe and intolerable as it progresses, affecting their life drastically. Especially for those with advanced cancer, patients will experience pain which has a major impact on daily living. The only plausible solution for them is having accessibility of a good pain relief medication, like oral morphine which is currently not an easily available option for patients in India due to the stringent laws,” pointed out O P Berry, director general Cancer Aid Society.

The organisation stressed that considering the current situation the government needs to relax its norms for accessibility of oral morphine. Berry stressed that cancer pain is perhaps one of the most feared symptoms associated with the disease and morphine plays a very important role in controlling the pain in patients by reducing the same to tolerable levels. In fact, according to reports it is understood that the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends taking an oral solution of morphine every four hours.