Palliative care 101: What are Opioids? 💊
Opioids are a class of drugs that help in relieving moderate/ severe pain and are commonly prescribed when all ‘over the counter’ painkillers fail to provide relief. 😌
While they’ve been used in developed countries for years (yellow box prescriptions), they were legalized in India last year – thanks to the work of doctors like MR Rajagopal (aka father of Palliative Care in India), who was inspired to make India a pain-free country ever since he witnessed his neighbor suffering from cancer-related pain (in ’93).
The number of people suffering from serious chronic conditions (like Migraine & Cancer) has increased in the last few years and Palliative care as a super-specialty in the Indian medical industry has grown in response.
But, while Opioids are good news for some patients, they have a huge downside.
Opioids are highly addictive! 💉
Since these medicines control the pain & emotion center of the brain, they have highly addictive properties that are known to stimulate a high-like feeling.
Drugmakers tend to capitalize on this for business. They funnel opioids to their large network of doctors and pharmacists that are paid & rewarded handsomely for advocating these products & pushing them to the end consumers. That’s how the pharmaceutical industry typically works.
Making Opioids a mass product can have serious consequences ☠️
There are more than 1 Crore licensed untrained physicians and general practitioners. What’s worse – this number is likely to increase after the NMC Bill is in place. For India this can be catastrophic as any general practitioner can prescribe these ‘new range of painkillers’.
A medicine that should’ve ideally been reserved for special cases that are identified by ‘pain doctors’ (palliative care specialists) will either be overused by people who don’t need it (but end up needing more) or people who simply abuse it.
PS – US is already suffering the consequences of opioid substance abuse and for India, the number of victims may very well quadruple unless the govt controls their growth.