Illicit diversion of pharma products challenge for Ind

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New Delhi, March 8: The diversion of pharmaceutical preparations containing narcotics and precursors like ephedrine and pseudoephedrine to illicit channels in India remains a major challenge for law enforcement agencies.

A global body report has cited the efforts by Prime  Minister Narendra Modi for spreading the word against drug abuse.

“The diversion of pharmaceutical preparations containing narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances from the Indian pharmaceutical industry, as well as their trafficking, including through illegal Internet pharmacies, continued over the reporting period,” said the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) report for 2015.

INCB is an independent and quasi-judicial monitoring body for the implementation of the United Nations international drug control conventions.

The diversion of ephedrine and pseudoephedrine from legal manufacture in India to illicit channels remains a major challenge for law enforcement agencies, it said.

Indian drug law enforcement agencies continued to report seizures of pharmaceutical preparations containing ephedrine and pseudoephedrine trafficked from India to Myanmar for the extraction of the precursors, said the report released last week.

Precursors are chemicals which can be used to manufacture narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances. While ephedrine is used for temporary relief of shortness of breath, chest tightness and asthama, pseudoephedrine is used to relieve nasal congestion caused by cold and allergies.

“The government of India accorded high priority to the issue of drug abuse. The Prime Minister used many platforms to spread the message to parents that they should spend more time with their children. There was an emphasis on skill development, which was also encouraged among drug users,” it said.

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India also continues to be a source country for ketamine — a party drug — trafficked to South-East Asia. Since February 2011, ketamine has been a controlled substance under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985.

In 2014, Indian law enforcement agencies seized 32kg of ketamine, a significant decrease from the 1,353kg seized in 2013. The dip in seizures indicates that ketamine trafficking may now be on the decline as a result of the authorities’ stringency following recent amendments to the Act, it said.

“Trafficking of codeine-based cough syrups, such as phensedyl, from India to Bangladesh continued to be reported.

Although Bangladesh banned codeine-based cough syrups, its medical use is allowed in India,” the report said.

In 2014, 7,48,730 bottles of codeine-based preparations were seized in Bangladesh, a decrease from the 9,87,661 bottles seized in 2013.

“India continued to develop a system for the online registration and submission of returns by manufacturers and wholesalers of psychotropic substances. The system opened in 2015, and the government planned to make it mandatory by the end of 2015.

“Notwithstanding the welcome developments, access to internationally-controlled substances for medical purposes in the South Asia region remained below the world average, in particular for opiate pain medication,” it said.

South Asia is increasingly being used for the illicit manufacture of amphetamine-type stimulants (ATS) – another party drug. ATS are also increasingly being abused. ATS in powder form is increasingly being smuggled from and illicitly manufactured in India, which is emerging as its main source in the region.

“India and China are perceived as major sources of various new psychoactive substances. One of those is mephedrone, whose increasing abuse has been reported globally in recent years.

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India was one of the source countries for mephedrone trafficked to various overseas destinations.

“After establishing its control over mephedrone and regulating it as a controlled psychotropic substance, India effected various seizures (1,106kg from January to June  2015),” the report said.

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