To curbs, the sale of habit-forming de-addiction drugs, Amritsar’s chemists have decided to stop selling five life-saving medicines, including tramadol.
General Secretary of the Amritsar Chemist Association, Piyush Sharma sent a notice to all the members of their chemist association to stop selling alprazolam, commonly used for the treatment of anxiety disorders; clonazepam, used to prevent and treat seizures; diazepam, used for treating a range of conditions, including anxiety and withdrawal symptoms; tramadol, a painkiller; and tapentadol.
Piyush wrote in his letter to all the chemists in the Amritsar “Looking at the present situation and to keep the check on harassment, you are hereby advised to stop the sale and purchase of the habit-forming drugs and their derivatives”.
Dr. Rupinder Kapur, Psychiatrists also expressed their concern over the development of addiction: “In a state grappling with opioid and alcohol dependence, it is hazardous if chemists stop selling life saving drugs meant to treat people. It will lead to black marketeering and a spike in the illegal drug trade. The government’s job is to provide affordable access to treatment. The chemists are taking a step backward.”
Dr. Sunil Mattoo, Punjab’s Drug Controller said this action of chemists is illegal. Punjab’s food and drug administration said “In the public interest, the government has developed a system for their sale. Anybody who follows the rules, can’t be harassed.
During the statewide inspection drive of private de-addiction centers last month, it was found that some centers were selling buprenorphine in bulk and were not keeping a proper record of patients to whom these medicines were dispensed.
To check indiscriminate sale of these habit-forming medicines, even the health and police officials have been making surprise checks at chemist shops. But the chemist associations are opposing the same. Even the chemists across the state had called for a strike last month.
Psychiatrists stop using de-addiction medicines
Many private psychiatrists have stopped using de-addiction medicines for fear of prosecution.
The Association of Psychiatrists, in a letter sent to the Additional Chief Secretary, Health, has raised various issues, including allowing all psychiatrists to treat addicts. “In light of the fact that the government itself employs medical officers after a brief training period of five days only to dispense medicines in OOAT clinics, it is incomprehensible as to why the services of existing specialists are not utilized,” they said.
Association president Dr. Rupinder Kapur said many psychiatrists had stopped using medicines for fear of prosecution and persecution due to an illogical and unscientific policy and regulatory hurdles.