LAHORE: City hospitals are facing an acute shortage of morphine for the last six months and that worries those trying to alleviate pain of cancer patients. Sources in Health Department have held the Ministry of National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination responsible for the morphine shortage at the government-run hospitals. Owing to the shortage of the drug, cancer patients at the National Institute of Child Health (NICH) – which is said to be the biggest hospital for children in the country – have found themselves in hot water because the drug is given to cancer patients as a last option to relive their pain. “Morphine tablets or injections are given to cancer patients at the last stage,” said Child Aid Association (CAA) president Dr Nizamud Din. “Patients in extreme pain need these drugs,” Dr Nizam added. He said that patients and doctors were facing problems due to unavailability of the drug since morphine shelves at the medical stores had gone empty. “It is sad that opium and other drugs are easily available in the city but the registration procedure of morphine is very cumbersome,” said the CAA president. Dr Nizam said that the CAA – a non-governmental organisation (NGO) working to provide free-of-cost cancer treatment to patients at the NICH under the public-private partnership –approached drug inspector concerned some six months ago for the registration of morphine but he rejected the application and asked to follow the set procedure in this regard. “Even the NICH Director contacted him but all went in vain,” he added Drug shortages are becoming rampant in government hospitals. The Health Ministry and the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP) is being severely criticised for “failing to ensure availability of drugs”. Since its inception in 2012, the authority, which was supposed to be an independent regulator to facilitate the industry for registration of medicines, has been in continuous quarrel over pricing, registration and other administrative issues resulting in severe shortage of many low-priced drugs alternate of which are not only expensive but only available to elite thru means of illegal import.