‘Udta’ north India: Abuse of pharma drugs rampant across most states

Narcotics Control Bureau’s annual report of 2017 states that abuse of pharmaceutical drugs-both over-the-counter and prescription drugs — is “prevalent in virtually all states of northern India”.

Neeraj Chauhan | TNN
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NEW DELHI: It’s not just Punjab which witnesses a drug abuse problem, largely related to use of pharmaceutical drugs, among the youth. Narcotics Control Bureau’s annual report of 2017 states that abuse of pharmaceutical drugs-both over-the-counter and prescription drugs — is “prevalent in virtually all states of northern India”.

Even Ayurvedic tablets containing opium like Kamini Vidrawan Ras, Barshasa etc are also being taken by the addicts, says the anti-drugs law enforcement agency.

On the drugs abuse trends emerging in 2017, NCB says among pharmaceutical drugs, abuse of “codeine-based cough syrups (CBCS)” is increasing. “The trafficking of CBCS is mainly along the border especially on the Indo-Bangladesh border. Codeine-based cough syrups are mainly trafficked from states like UP, Delhi, Bihar to north eastern states and from there to Bangladesh,” the report stated. It named some of the CBCS brands being abused and trafficked as — Corex, Phensedyl and Recodex. Data show that 5,66,450 bottles of syrup, 58,463 injections and over 63 lakh tablets were recovered by agencies from all over India in 2017. NCB also points out abuse of antidepressants like Alprazolam, Diazepam, Clonazepam, Lorazapam, Benzodiazepine etc among the Indian population.

The report says that Tramadol, a painkiller, is also used like codeine and is not covered under the Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act. “Tramadol is a schedule ‘H’ drug under the Drugs and Cosmetic Act, 1940 and can only be dispensed under prescription of a registered medical petitioner. It is also not included in any of the schedules of 1971 UN Convention on Psychotropic Substances. Internationally, it is banned in many countries and hence it is often smuggled using courier and manual means from India to countries like US, Canada etc,” says the report. The government is already considering bringing Tramadol under the NDPS Act.

Acetic anhydride, used by the pharmaceutical and textile industries in India, which is one of the largest producers of the prod is also being used for illegal manufacture of heroin, it adds. NCB says that tablets containing ephedrine/pseudo ephedrine are being diverted/smuggled and internet is being increasingly used for smuggling most of the pharmaceutical drugs.

Discussing the trends in smuggling of amphetamine-type stimulants (ATS), also called ‘synthetic drugs’, the NCB report says it is trafficked to India from Myanmar. Malaysia, Australia and Thailand are the major destination countries for ATS sourced from India.

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