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Rising trend of drug addicts turning to pharmaceutical drugs in Western Province

21 February 2024 09:36 pm - 2     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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Colombo, Feb 21 (Daily Mirror) - Amid the 'Yukthiya Operation' crackdown in the Western Province, there has been a concerning trend of drug addicts increasingly turning to pharmaceutical drugs as alternative sources due to the shortage of heroin, ice, or cannabis and the authorities have launched a major operation in the western province targeting dozens of errant pharmacies that sell psychoactive drugs to drug addicts.

Police and National Medicines Regulatory Authority (NMRA) officials launched a major operation in the Western Province during the last 48 hours targeting dozens of errant pharmacies that would sell psychoactive drugs for the addicts running short of their daily dose due to scarcity of narcotic drugs from the ‘Yukthiya Meheyuma’.

The special operation came into being following a high level meeting held between Acting IGP Deshabandu Tennakoon and senior NMRA officials on February 8 to address the issue of drug addicts switching to medicinal drugs that could be used as a substitute to their ‘daily kick’.

The meeting was attended by senior police officials including Senior DIG Narcotics, Senior DIG Legal Ruwan Gunasekara and Police Spokesman DIG Nihal Thalduwa along with senior Food and Drug Inspectors of the NMRA.

It was observed at the meeting that there was a growing trend in the country especially in the Western Province that hordes of drug addicts would quietly switch to pharmaceutical drugs as they could find their daily intake of heroin, ice or cannabis owing to the ongoing ‘Yukthiya Operation’.

When contacted Police Spokesman DIG Nihal Thalduwa told the Daily Mirror that there is a severe shortage of narcotic drugs in Colombo at present owing to the continuous detection of illicit substances by the ‘Yukthiya’ thus a growing trend of addicts switching to pharmaceutical drugs.

According to Thalduwa about two dozens of errant pharmacies that had illegally sold prescription drugs with psychoactive effects had been raided in the three districts of Colombo, Gampaha and Kalutara by the time this edition went to press last evening, and the operation was still continuing.

The DIG said that their intelligence reports have identified over 40 errant pharmacies in the Western Province that sell psychoactive drugs sans prescriptions.

Meanwhile, a senior NMRA official told the Daily Mirror that their officials in the three districts had been deployed for the special operation to back the police, as the police are not vested with the authority to raid and check pharmacies.

The official said three food and drug inspectors from each Regional Directorate of Health Services (RDHS) in the three districts had been deployed to back the police in raiding suspicious pharmacies and to take legal action against its pharmacists.

Psychoactive drugs like Pregabalin, which are usually prescribed for chronic diabetic patients with wounds, for severe pains after surgeries had been identified as drugs purchased by drug addicts.

A major raid carried out at a pharmacy along the Galle Road in Ratmalana by the Mount Lavinia Police and NMRA officials on Tuesday night had seized over 10, 000 tablets of these drugs, which was quite unusual for a pharmacy to have that much of stock.

A card of tablets which is priced at Rs.450 had been sold by the female pharmacist for Rs.750 without asking for any prescription which was a clear violation of the law, the officer said.

She was arrested by the NMRA officials and was released on a surety bail of Rs.100,000. They found that the pharmacy had not even renewed its retail license in two years.

The 48-hour operation carried out in the Western Province would be extended to countrywide provinces shortly.


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  Comments - 2

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  • Panacea Thursday, 22 February 2024 02:17 AM

    Unless Sri Lanka takes the example of Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and other host of SE Asian countries and brings Mandatory Death Sentence for Drug Pushers we have no hope for the future. However, if the politicians do have a hand in the drug industry then this panacea is doomed to fail.

    Think Humamely Thursday, 22 February 2024 07:56 AM

    Drug addiction needs to be understood as a public health crisis. Society has changed so rapidly that even the best of us are stressed. Add the many crises of the recent past and you have large groups of people struggling to make sense. There is also large numbers of people being being diagnosed with psychological conditions and both society and the medical community are ill equipped to handle this. And our approach is to arrest them and throw them in jail?


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