New Delhi – To stop abuse of prescription drugs, the Delhi government’s drug control department will keep a tab on the sale and purchase of addictive medicines in pharmacies across the city. Earlier this month, the department issued a circular to all medicine shops asking them to keep a limited stock of such drugs, maintain records and sell habit-forming medicines only on prescription. “It is important to prevent people from abusing pharmaceutical drugs since once they do so they might graduate to abuse synthetic and illegal drugs. Patients get addicted to certain drugs that are available over the counter after using them over a period of time. In most cases, people take such medicines without consulting a doctor,” said Dr. Mrinalini Darswal, drug controller. New guidelines state chemists must stock habit-forming drugs only on a “need-basis” and send a monthly report to the government. “They (shops) should limit the stock of such drugs for maximum one month. Any unexplained stock will attract stringent punishment,” the circular read. “These measures may cause inconvenience to medicine shop owners. But they are important for public health. It is a welcome decision,” said Sandeep Nangia, president of Retail Distributors Chemists Association (RDCA). The chemists have been asked to inform the drug control department if there is a “sudden surge or unexplained hike in demand of such habit-forming drugs” at their wholesale or retail stores. They have been requested to report any person selling these drugs illegally or without prescription in their area. “The department will concentrate on border areas, resettlement colonies and areas near North Campus, South Campus and JNU (Jawaharlal Nehru University) and others where students live in large numbers. We have seen pharmaceutical drugs are mostly abused by truckers, poor and homeless and students,” said an official. In the last one year, licences of 14 shops in northwest Delhi’s Mahendar Park and west Delhi’s Khayala had been cancelled. The department has stopped issuing new licences in areas known for drug abuse. The order has named seven commonly abused drugs which the department will keep a tab on – Buprenorphine (used to treat opiod addiction), Pentazocaine and Tramadol (opium-based pain-killer), Avil (used to treat allergies), Codein-based cough syrups like Corex and Phensidyl, Alprazolam (used to treat anxiety disorder) and Diazepam (a tranquilising, muscle-relaxant).