Following report of free flow of psychotropic drug, nitrazepam, to Kerala through the border districts of the neighboring states of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, the state drugs control administration in Tamil Nadu has constituted three special squads in the bordering districts to check and stop the free entry.
Each of the three squads contains one assistant drugs controller and two drug inspectors. They will operate from the zonal offices of Coimbatore, Madurai and Thirunelveli.
All the reported cases will be investigated. School and college children travelling to both the states are alleged to be the sources of trafficking of this sedative and hypnotic drug. So the investigating team will conduct awareness classes in the professional institutions with the support of institutional heads. Similarly, legal actions will be initiated against traders, provided any case is detected, said S Sivabalan, director of drugs control administration in Tamil Nadu.
For the last one year, there have been reports of trafficking of nitrazepam from Tamil Nadu and Karnataka to Kerala. Since the Kerala drug regulators are alleged to be weak in detecting the cross border sale of this Schedule H/H1 drug, it has become a growing menace to the common people. The illegal traders are utilizing the college students as carriers by giving them a small amount as remuneration. Since the drug is notified under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985, the excise department in Kerala is the only enforcement agency to inspect and seize the cross border trafficking. Very few cases have been filed in courts by the drug regulators in this regard.
It is alleged that the inefficiency of the Kerala drugs control department to check and stop the growing menace of the illegal entry of this drug is the reason for the incessant flow to Kerala. The state has become a free market of nitrazepam for any person to purchase it clandestinely from any place without prescription. According to medical professionals, nitrazepam should be sold on prescription by neurologists, anesthetists, psychiatrists and certain specialists. Further allegation being raised against the drug regulators is that some senior officers in the state drugs control department have secret business tie-up with the chemists associations in Thrissur and Ernakulam districts. This psychotropic drug may be imported to their shops with the support of the regulators, those who raise the allegations believe.
According to information from sources close to drug market, in Kerala, for the last three years, no raid or seizure of illegal sale has been conducted or report of any violation has been made anywhere in the state. But complaints of malpractices and violations are alarmingly growing everyday. In reply to queries from Pharmabiz, Kerala drugs controller, Revi S Menon, said he has intimated the government about cross border trafficking of nitrazepam through the border districts of Palakkad and Wynad. Further he said he will write a letter to the Tamil Nadu DCA director to take action there.
According to excise officials in Palakkad and Wynad, this uncontrolled entry of nitrazepam has created headache to the sleuths of the department. Last month, excise officials in Wynad had seized 75 tablets of this psychotropic drug from a college student coming from Mysore and the Palakkad circle inspector in a special drive seized 300 tablets from a student studying in a college at Salem. Total 2,500 tablets of nitrazepam were seized in the last ten months period in Palakkad by the excise inspector.