Published on: February 6, 2015

Ketamine is the “poor man’s anaesthetic”. Its side-effects include delirium and hallucination and hence, it is not used much in most of the developed world, but it is a medicine that can often be used with limited facilities and, therefore, is essential for pain relief during surgery in the developing countries.

It also has significant effect in relieving pain in pain states which are intractable to usual treatment.

Unfortunately, it is also used as a recreational drug and abused much. China now asked the international control system to bring in international scheduling of the medicine, which would decrease its availability all over the world and the net result would be an increase in the pain burden. In such discussions, we always forget the principle of balance – ensuring access for pain relief, while preventing abuse and diversion. Fortunately, we understand from the Department of Revenue of the Government of India that India will take a stand against international scheduling of Ketamine and will argue for continuation of domestic control. In India, it is a schedule X drug – meaning that it can be stocked only by pharmacists licensed to do so and a double prescription is necessary.

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