Amended Narcotics Drugs Act notified after getting assent from President


The Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (Amendment) Act, 2014 (NDPS), which is expected to give access to pain relief medicines including morphine to cancer patients, has been notified by the government after it got the assent from the President.

According to official sources, the President gave the approval to the Act recently after the parliament passed the bill during its Winter Session in February, thus paving way for the final notification to put it into effect.

The Act has been viewed as a welcome step to help the terminally ill patients get relief as it simplified the licensing for storage of morphine which would give the cancer patients access to it, for the first time since 1985 when the narcotics law was enacted.

Due to the lack of access to morphine, it was pointed that the science of pain relief or palliative care is not taught in Indian medical colleges as a specialised degree. At present, the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) and Safdarjung Hospital are the only two hospitals in Delhi and among the few centres in the country that store and prescribe opiates for treating chronic pain in terminally ill cancer and AIDS patients.

Morphine, derived from opium, is the only analgesic to manage pain in terminally ill cancer patients. India, despite being one of the largest producers of morphine in the world, has restricted its availability. The Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act earlier prohibited, except for medical and scientific purposes, the manufacture, production, sale and use of opiates.

Before this amendment, each state had a different law for opiates. Further, hospitals procuring morphine will now need a single permit instead of the six required before. The licence will be granted by the state drug controller. The bill has been stuck in red tape for a decade. Finally it got clearance after morphine was categorised as essential narcotic medicine, necessitating the need for a uniform, centralised regulation.

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3/13/2014 1:07:54 PM