Syringes Sale-Purchase Ban: Treatment far worse than the disease

Syringe Manufacturers and Public Health Epidemiologists look askance at the orders in Punjab

New Delhi/ Bhatinda/ Ferozepur : Syringe manufacturers and public health epidemiologists have viewed Punjab administrations’ orders banning sale and purchase of syringes in medical stores and chemists’ shops without doctor’s prescription, with a lot of suspicion. They have averred that intent may be sacrosanct but the orders in reality might prove ‘treatment far worse than the disease’. It might do more harm than the intended good and may trigger the menace of Syringes reuse by drug Addicts.

Rajiv Nath, Jt. Managing Director, Hindustan Syringes & Medical Devices Ltd and a great votary of safety in the use of syringes, has called the step ‘completely absurd.’ In his communiqué to Medicare News, Mr Nath has expressed fears that the step might boomerang on the state populace. He fears that ‘This will amplify problem of Syringes reuse by Drug Addicts and accelerate spread of Hepatitis C in Punjab which already has highest Hepatitis B&C spreading from Drug Addicts to other patients in the already challenged Healthcare infrastructure as further Restriction to access Syringes.’

Mr Nath, a champion of Auto Disable Syringes, further said, ‘ While the law exists in USA of Syringes sale limited to prescription, this is not there in India and the intent of solving a problem may be noble but the management tool being used is questionable. It would be more prudent to accelerate a switch to Auto Disable Syringes in private sector in Punjab and have a State policy as done by Government of Andhra Pradesh to prevent reuse with help of State Drug Controller to address this magnifying problem in Punjab’.
He adds, ‘Public Healthcare facility in India are amplifiers of disease. One comes to get a hernia operation but contracts Dengue or Hepatitis B or HIV due to lack of Universal Precautions of Infections prevention being applied .Training and Skill building help but where there are cultural habits that are not easily broken one needs help of Technology- e.g Auto Disable Syringes that can’t be reused.

Did you always wear a seat belt ? You know it’s for your safety but you ignore, technology of audio alarm was more effective than a visual alarm to discipline drivers to belt up.’
The Punjab administrations have cited rampant drug addiction and a score of drug injecting users (IDUs) dying of overdose as the reason behind this extraordinary step. They have directed the chemists and medical stores not to sell the syringes without a written prescription from a doctor. The deputy commissioners or additional deputy commissioners using the powers conferred upon them under section 144 of CrPC have imposed a complete ban on sale of syringes without prescription.

Faridkot deputy commissioner Rajiv Parashar, Bathinda additional district magistrate Sakshi Sawhney, Fazilka district administration and Doctor Richa, additional deputy magistrate, Ferozpur on Friday issued the orders to the chemists. These orders shall remain applicable till September 30, 2018.
The immediate trigger of this ban: Disposable syringes were found besides the Kotkapura man found dead in a vacant plot last week. Two syringes were found from near the body of a drug addict at Talwandi Sabo earlier this week. Dr Richa, in his order has said, ‘syringes are used by the drug addicts for taking the injection with the intoxicant substances which is available openly at the chemists’ shops- medical stores. There is a danger to peace and law and order in addition to loss of lives and property.’


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