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

Sunita VS Bandewar

Abstract

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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