Access to controlled medicines for palliative care in India: gains and challenges

Sunita VS Bandewar

DOI: 10.20529/IJME.2015.025


It was in the early 1990s that an appeal was made, both in India and globally, for access to palliative care to be treated as a human rights issue. Over the past few years, India has witnessed robust advocacy efforts which push for the consideration of palliative care and pain management as a human right. Central to this paper is India’s Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act, 1985: its genesis, its critique, and the amendments aimed at enhancing access to the NDPS for medical care and research. I refer to the advocacy efforts in India, particularly the most recent ones, which led to the amendments to the NDPS Act, 1985 in February 2014; and the contribution of the global and local human rights discourse on palliative care to these efforts. This I situate in the overall status of palliative care in India. Towards the end, I briefly set out the agenda that should be pursued in the coming years to enhance access to controlled medicines for pain management and palliative care.

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