Speaking at the meeting, director of Cancer Institute (WIA) Dr T G Sagar said, 'India has been criticised by the World Health Organisation(WHO) for failing to incorporate adequate pain management in its palliative care programmes.'
He said that till 2004, the institute received morphine supply from WHO as per government regulations but despite producing 97 per cent of the global morphine legally, only three per cent of the cancer patients in India benefit and the majority 97 per cent continue to die in pain. He said that while the average morphine consumption in the country should be 900 kg ,only 120 kg was being used in the country according to the International Narcotics Control Board.
He further said that even after reduced morphine price since 2004, its usage was limited as a barrier to pain relief owing to lack of knowledge among health professionals, concern over addictions, diversions and strict and complicated bureaucratic regulations and its importance in medical use.
Chairperson of Cancer Institute (WIA) Dr V Shanta stressed the importance of morphine use for cancer patients and said that with 60,000 cancer cases reported each year in Tamilnadu alone, there was the need for trained palliative care specialists and multidisciplinary teams. She said the use of morphine under palliative care is an imperative approach associated with life - threatening illness and its prevention and relief with early identification, impeccable assessment and treatment of pain with other problems like physical, psycho-social and spiritual, curbing the agony of cancer patients.
Director of Drug Control, government of Tamilnadu M S Rajendran said that only 27 medical institutions in the State avail themselves of morphine supply. He said that simplifying the standard operation procedures (SOP) for morphine licence, the drug control board requires specifications from medical institutes, its practitioners, in and out- patients and the amount of morphine utilised and required for palliative care units.