When the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act of India was amended by the Indian Parliament in February 2014, many expected immediate results, but the procedural barriers were many. According to the Parliament’s legislation, the power to change the state rules was transferred from the state to the central government. We were expecting the central government notification of uniform state rules for the whole country. But it was delayed. Finally, we are glad to report that the state NDPS rules have been notified. All the states in India now have a simple procedure, which essentially is a modification of the Kerala rules which have been in existence since 1999. Contrary to the Kerala rules, the present notification extends to all formations of morphine, fentanyl and some other opioids.
Would this mean immediate improvement in access to pain relief in India? We fear not. There are two major hurdles before us: the first is education of professionals in pain management and the second is ensuring that all the states implement the new rules without bringing in procedural complications.
We have a lot of work to do!