The Central Government has agreed to provide easy availability of certain narcotic drugs and other opioids for terminally ill cancer patients.This assurance has been given by the Union Ministry of Finance in a letter to Punjab’s Industry and Commerce Minister Sunder Sham Arora who lost his wife to this dreaded ailment.The letter promises to remove all regulatory barriers perceived as hindrances to the availability of morphine and other opioids for genuine medical needs such as pan relief/palliative care and de-addiction treatment.Giving this information Mr Arora said he had received an official communiqué from the Department of Revenue, Ministry of Finance, Government of India in this regard after he had raised the issue through a letter to the Prime Minister’s Office on March 30.Elaborating, he said that Mr. Ritvik Pandey, IAS, Joint Secretary (Revenue) in his letter stated that certain amendments were effected in the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act 1985 in 2014. Under the amendments, certain narcotic drugs were described as “Essential Narcotic Drugs” by the Central Government. These six essential narcotic drugs are Codeine, Dhiyodrocodeinone (commonly known as Hydocodone), Dihydroxy Codeinone, Fentanyl, Methadone and Morphine.
“Efforts are being made to maintain a fine balance between the easy availability of the essential narcotic drugs for medical use and the required control to prevent their diversion for abuse,” said Mr. Ritvik Pandey in the communication. Overall the opioid availability for palliative care in India is improving, claimed Mr. Ritvik Pandey.However Mr. Arora claimed that as per experts only 2 per cent cancer patients who need opioid during terminal stage, get it.In his letter dated March 30, 2018, Mr. Sunder Sham Arora had drawn the attention of the Prime Minister towards the non availability of opioids to cancer patients at terminal stage. The letter of Mr. Arora was acknowledged in the Prime Minister’s office by Mr. Brajendra Navnit, Joint Secretary to Prime Minister.Mr. Arora has again requested the Prime Minister to make further amendments in the Act regarding sale, purchase, possession, consumption, use etc. of Essential Narcotic Drugs so as to reduce the inconvenience of the relatives of terminally ill cancer patients.It is worth mentioning that Mr. Arora faced lot of inconvenience due to non availability of opioids during the terminal stage of cancer of his wife Simple Arora. After the death of his wife he took up the matter with the PMO as regulations related with this Act are in the domain of the Central Government.