India suffers from rising abuse of prescription drugs

Last drugs abuse survey was made in 2001

GN Bureau | June 26, 2010

New drugs enter the market every new day and make their way to new markets mainly in developing countries, says a report released by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). Lax regulations, populations in economic transition let drug abuse flourish in such countries.

“The global number of people using amphetamine-type stimulants (ATS) – estimated at around 30-40 million – is soon likely to exceed the number of opiate and cocaine users combined,” said the World Drug report 2010.

India is no different from other developing nations, said Cristina Albertin, representative of the UNODC, South Asia at the release of report in New Delhi. “There is increased number of abuse of pharmaceuticals drugs which is easily available in any medicine stores for non-medical purpose,” added Albertin. However, she said there is no data available on how many numbers are using such drugs.

The government of India, however, clarified that no drugs abuse survey has been done in the last nine years. “The last drug abuse survey was done in 2001 and after that no national survey has been conducted. Now the pilot survey is on, which will be followed by national survey. So the exact number of people using pharmaceuticals would only be known after that,” Ish Kumar, deputy director general of the Narcotics control bureau, ministry of home affairs told Governance Now.

The report also mentioned that there is growing number of people who have been misusing the prescription drugs, such as synthetic opioids, benzodiazepines or synthetic prescription stimulants.

Users are experimenting with legal pharmaceutical drugs, which is a matter of great concern to us, said Lungmuana.

The report highlighted that manufacturers are quick to market new products (Ketamine, piperazines, Mephedrone and Spice). The report noted that the number of secret laboratories producing drugs like amphetamine and ecstasy increased 20 percent in 2008. According to report “Manufacture of ecstasy has increased in North America and in several parts of Aisa, and use seems to be increasing in Asia.”

Overall, 3.5-5.7 percent of the global population aged 15-64 used an illicit drug at least once in 2008, the report mentioned. However, the report cited that the world’s supply of the two main problem drugs – opiates and cocaine (12-18 percent) – keeps declining. It said, “Global potential heroin production fell by 13 percent to 657 tons in 2009 due to lower production in Afghanistan and Myanmar.”
“Afghanistan produces 89 percent of the world's opium from which heroin is produced,” the report further added “Around 40 percent of Afghan heroin/morphine is trafficked through Pakistan”.

The Vienna-based agency warned that drugs trafficking can threaten the security, and even the sovereignty of states. The UNODC also demanded from countries around the world to ensure drugs treatment adding ‘there is a serious lack of drug treatment facilities around the world.’

The report was released two-day ahead of June 26, as the world observes International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking.

Read the report



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