Published on: August 1, 2022

Union Territory of Puducherry has laid highest priority to health and strives to provide quality care at all three levels of mainstream healthcare. However, access to pain relief and palliative care remains a challenge as the government has to prioritize the available limited resources.

Addressing the need for quality palliative care in the union territory, Pallium India and Aarupadai Veedu Medical College & Hospital in association with Department of Drugs Control, Puducherry conducted an “Opioid Availability” workshop for palliative care professionals, drug vendors and pharmacists of medical institutions in Puducherry. This workshop shed light on the operational procedures to ensure implementation of the amended NDPS rules 2015 so as to have uninterrupted access to pain relief in the union territory.

In the presence of the Drugs Controller Dr E Anandakirouchenane, Dr P F Kotur (Dean-AVMC), Dr Rajagopal (Chairman, Pallium India), Officials of department of drugs control, representatives from association of druggists & chemists (Puducherry), and other department heads of AVMC; the workshop started with the welcome address of Dr P F Kotur.

Dr Rajagopal, in his inaugural address, stressed the need for pain relief in palliative care and the significance of principle of balance. He highlighted the need of local availability of Essential Narcotic Drugs to have an uninterrupted supply to the vendors and meet the demand of the medical institutes. Dr Rajagopal presented the case study of Kerala and the importance of the accountability of RMIs to avoid the opioid misuse.

The Drugs Controller presented the keynote address specifying the challenges and current scenario in Puducherry with regards to purchasing/dispensing opioids for medical purpose. He talked about NDPS Amendment Act in detail and the application process to obtain the recognized medical institution status. It was commendable to note that Drugs controller talked from a facilitator perspective than from an enforcement authority sharing the responsibility that stakeholders have to alleviate pain relief of the suffering patients. There was an interactive Q&A session with drugs controller and Dr Rajagopal where drug vendors shared the logistical challenges of procuring opioids and medical institutes asked about the documentation required for smooth drug availability.

The workshop was successfully completed with high participation from drug vendors, retailers, medical institutes, and palliative care professionals (134 people).  It was first of its kind event in the union territory where all the stakeholders came together under one roof to discuss the challenges and find solutions for easy opioid availability for medical use and safe usage of the same. Drugs controller suggested that a stakeholder network would be created out of this workshop and similar meetings can be conducted in the future.

Pallium India takes this opportunity to thank the Govt. of Puducherry, Controlling authority Dr E Anandakirouchenane, Association of druggists & chemists association, and AVMC college for making this happen.

(Report prepared by State Facilitation team, Pallium India)

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