Indian Journal of Palliative Care
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Year : 2018  |  Volume : 24  |  Issue : 5  |  Page : 30--35

Challenges of using methadone in the Indian pain and palliative care practice

1 Department of Palliative Care, Homi Bhabha Cancer Hospital and Research Centre, A Unit of Tata Memorial Centre, Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh, India
2 Consultant, Pain and Palliative Medicine, MNJ Institute of Oncology and RCC, Hyderabad, India
3 Department of Oncology and Family Medicine, Cummings School of Medicine, University of Calgary, Calgary, AB, Canada
4 VA Medical Center 11E, Iowa City, IA, USA

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Vidya Viswanath
Department of Palliative Care, Homi Bhabha Cancer Hospital and Research Centre, A Unit of Tata Memorial Centre, Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/IJPC.IJPC_168_17

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Palliative care providers across India lobbied to gain access to methadone for pain relief and this has finally been achieved. Palliative care activists will count on the numerous strengths for introducing methadone in India, including the various national and state government initiatives that have been introduced recognizing the importance of palliative care as a specialty in addition to improving opioid accessibility and training. Adding to the support are the Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), the medical fraternity and the international interactive and innovative programs such as the Project Extension for Community Health Outcome. As compelling as the need for methadone is, many challenges await. This article outlines the challenges of procuring methadone and also discusses the challenges specific to methadone. Balancing the availability and diversion in a setting of opioid phobia, implementing the amended laws to improve availability and accessibility in a country with diverse health-care practices are the major challenges in implementing methadone for relief of pain. The unique pharmacology of the drug requires meticulous patient selection, vigilant monitoring, and excellent communication and collaboration with a multidisciplinary team and caregivers. The psychological acceptance of the patient, the professional training of the team and the place where care is provided are also challenges which need to be overcome. These challenges could well be the catalyst for a more diligent and vigilant approach to opioid prescribing practices. Start low, go slow could well be the way forward with caregiver education to prescribe methadone safely in the Indian palliative care setting.


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