Ill at Ease

India’s booming appetite for opioids

02 November 2019
After decades of stringent narcotics laws, born of massive and debilitating opium consumption in centuries past, India is ready to salve its pain. High-powered opioids are regularly prescribed at the pain management clinics burgeoning across the country.
SAUMYA KHANDELWAL
After decades of stringent narcotics laws, born of massive and debilitating opium consumption in centuries past, India is ready to salve its pain. High-powered opioids are regularly prescribed at the pain management clinics burgeoning across the country.
SAUMYA KHANDELWAL

Pain, like death, is a universal phenomenon.

The sour grimace on the woman’s face, registering her bodily complaints to Dr GP Dureja in his East Delhi office, would be recognised anywhere. Slouched shoulders, pinched forehead. She wore a willowy black kurta and cast a disapproving glance at the five pain physicians-in-training huddled behind Dureja, the founder of Delhi Pain Management Centre and one of India’s pioneering pain physicians.

The five trainees, participants in the centre’s acclaimed pain fellowship programme, recorded the woman’s consultation on their smartphones, eager to see the famous pain doctor do his work. After their fellowships, they will return home, to Chennai, Kashmir, Rajasthan, ready to forge careers in India’s exploding pain industry.

Sarah Varney is a senior health policy correspondent with Kaiser Health News. Her stories air regularly on NPR News and appear in the New York Times, the Washington Post, USA Today and KHN’s other print partners. She has reported extensively on health policy and disparities within the public health sphere.

Keywords: narcotics Palliative care Pharmaceuticals health policy Pain management
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