Morphine, the New Pain Reliever?
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11 February 2009
It is considered to be more addictive than alcohol or opium and its use once resulted in over four lakh soldiers, during the American Civil War, getting addicted to it. The drug Morphine, of late has turned out to be a boon for cancer patients, providing relief to the patients from excruciating pain.
Aware of the fact, the Indian Association of Anaesthetists (IAA) has called upon the government to provide the drug in all important medical institutions. Talking to TOI, president of Lucknow Chapter, IAA, Dr Anil Agarwal said that they want the drug to be made available in all medical colleges of the state. The drug as of now is available in Sanjay Gandhi Post–graduate Institute of Medical Sciences, SGPGIMS, Chhatrapati Shahuji Maharaj Medical University, CSMMU and Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi Medical College, Kanpur.
Dr Agarwal, a senior faculty in the department of anaesthesia, SGPGIMS, said that the association is into talks with the government through various forums for making the drug available in the rest of the medical colleges in UP.
“Many of the doctors still don’t realise the immense potential of the drug which provides the cancer patients swift relief from pain,” he said, after attending a review meeting with experts from Cancer Aids Society on Tuesday. He said that the consensus for procuring the drug in medical institutes came to the fore in 2007. “Ever since we are trying to make the drug more and more popular for cancer patients,” he said. In 2007, SGPGIMS became the second medical institute in UP after Benaras Hindu University (BHU) to have the drug as it procured 300 tablets of morphine from a Delhi based company for treating 50 patients for 10 days. Ever since the number is growing.
A schedule–X narco–analgesic drug, Morphine is derived by processing the straw of poppy, a vastly occurring herb in India. The drug was used quite often in 1990s by medicos in post operative care until its reported misuse forced the government to put a ban on its free sale.
Dr Agarwal said that an institute/college needs to have a licence, and that it would use the drug on patients under close observation. “A patient may die of cancer, but he should always be provided the relief from the pain which makes his life miserable. The patient often loses interest in living,” he said.
India, according to experts, is the largest producer of Morphine. While the exports of the drugs have always been on the rise, its usage as a medicine has always seen a plunge. Foreign experts visiting India and more recently the SGPGIMS had expressed their dissatisfaction over the imposed ban.
But does a patient gets addictive to the drug? Experts insist that this is just a misconception. “A patient won’t get addicted to it,” a senior doctor in anaesthesia department observed. The drug gets metabolised in the liver with the help of Kidney.
A recent study conducted in Holland too corroborates the medicos claim. According to a Dutch website, the test showed cancer patients who were administered 209 mg of morphine daily for three months do not differ significantly from other patients with respect to thinking abilities, alertness, and concentration.