Indian Journal of Palliative Care
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Year : 2020  |  Volume : 26  |  Issue : 5  |  Page : 70--75

Opioid dispensing patterns from a tertiary care cancer hospital during the nationwide lockdown in COVID-19 pandemic

1 Department of Onco-Anaesthesia and Palliative Medicine, BRAIRCH, AIIMS, New Delhi, India
2 Consultant Psychiatry, ILBS, New Delhi, India

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Sushma Bhatnagar
Department of Onco-Anaesthesia and Palliative Medicine, BRAIRCH, AIIMS, New Delhi
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/IJPC.IJPC_179_20

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Introduction: During the current COVID-19 crisis, striking a balance between adequate pain relief in advanced malignancy patients and avoiding hospitals due to fear of contracting the infection has been the biggest challenge for patients as well as palliative care physicians. This study explored the trends in opioid dispensing for cancer pain before and during the lockdown. Methods: The trends were calculated based on an analysis of quantity of all opioids dispensed. March 24, 2020, was considered as a cutoff for analyzing before and during lockdown period dispensing trends. No information regarding individual patients was retrieved in the current study. Results: There was a decrease in total morphine, tramadol, and fentanyl patch dispensing parallel to decrease in total number of patients visiting the outpatient department. However, there was a statistically significant increase in per capita opioid dispensing during the lockdown period. There was also an increase in the proportion of cancer pain patients that were dispensed morphine during the lockdown. Conclusion: Despite the lockdown, the palliative care team at Institute Rotary Cancer Hospital has continued to provide adequate pain relief to patients that could manage to reach the center. Policy-makers need to be cognizant of the pain relief needs of cancer patients in times when accessing hospitals is becoming increasingly difficult. Cancer-related pain and mortality could well be the next pandemic once the current COVID-19 begins to reduce.


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