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DoH gives P300,000 worth of morphine to PGH

Posted on: September 10, 2009

DoH gives P300,000 worth of morphine to PGH

By Anna Valmero
INQUIRER.net
First Posted 12:26:00 09/10/2009

Filed Under: Health, Health treatment, Medicines

MANILA, Philippines—The Department of Health has begun the turnover of morphine supplies worth P300,000 million as initial distribution to the Philippine General Hospital for use in the pain management and palliative care of indigent patients, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said.

From this month until December, the DoH will donate P10 million worth of morphine to 27 selected affiliated hospitals and hospices nationwide to make available opioids, especially for indigents and people who are living in remote areas and suffering from pain due to chronic and terminal illnesses like cancer, he said Thursday.

“The success of cancer pain management method depends on the availability of, and patient access to, medicines that can relieve severe pain, such as morphine and other opioid analgesics that are effective for pain management,” said Duque.

“At least 200,000 Filipinos cancer patients are suffering from pain daily,” said Duque.

In a phone interview, Ivan Hoe Escartin, DoH program manager for dangerous drugs abuse, prevention and treatment, said half of the P10 million morphine supplies would be distributed over the next two months to care for 810 patients in three months and assess the dosage distribution to 20 to 30 indigent patients in each of the 27 selected hospitals.

The DoH will then hold a meeting after two months with the Dangerous Drugs Board and the Philippine Drugs Enforcement Agency to assess how the morphine is utilized by hospitals, if there have been supplies diverted out of hospitals.

“We are contacting the 800 patients to be covered in two to three months and see how the hospital utilized the morphine supplies. Morphine is prone to be abused so we need to assess their systems of registry and check for hospitals with high need for the supply,” said Escartin.

Escartin admitted the supply is not enough to cover all indigent patients who need pain management in the country but he added the evaluation will pave a way for better registry systems, in anticipation of the additional P10 million supplies to be purchased by DoH next year.

The United Nations International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) put the Philippines’ morphine consumption at a minimal 0.2351 milligram per capita in 2006 or almost 20 kilograms, slightly up from below 15 kilograms in 1999.

The low usage of opioid in the country is a result of various factors including opioids regulatory and distribution issues, existence of misconceptions about morphine at different levels, and coordination issues between the stakeholders at the service level.

“Our morphine consumption has steadily increased in 2006 but the country is still tailing behind developed countries and even other neighboring nations in Southeast Asia. Through the distribution of morphine to hospitals nationwide, we hope to make morphine more available and accessible to the Filipinos needlessly suffering from pain,” Duque said.

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