G.V. Prasada Sarma

Strict norms for sale as youth fall prey to habit-inducing drugs

Licences of 100-odd druggists cancelled for up to a monthGangs use youth to collect tablets from each shop and sell them in bulk later250 injections of such a drug seized from a medical practitioner

VISAKHAPATNAM: Sale of habit-forming medicines across the counter without prescription is being strictly monitored in the city in view of drug abuse. Druggists are insisting on fresh prescription for sale of medicinesand are issuing bills even if the customer does not seek one. Their stock and retail sale are under the scanner of the Drugs Control Administration.

On outskirts

To escape the strict vigil, unscrupulous elements are shifting operations to the interior parts of the district. As many as 300 ampules of an anti-spasmodic injection were seized at K. Kotapadu. A registered medical practitioner at Kurmannapalem was found to be possessing 250 injections of a drug to treat a patient addicted to it. The links were traced to a distributor and a doctor.

"In the last two years, licences of 100 to 150 druggists were cancelled for up to a month," says Ravi Uday Bhaskar, Drug Inspector. Now of the 600 druggists in the city only a handful still resort to such unauthorised sale, he says.

The crackdown began after it was found that youth were increasingly taking to these drugs. For instance, a bottle of codine phosphate-based cough syrup was in much demand since it ensured intoxication and peaceful sleep, he recalled. Since the syrup was odourless, parents suspected nothing. Gangs also deployed youth to collect one or two tablets from each shop by pleading with the druggists and later sold them.

To check this unauthorised sale, shops selling the medicines in sizeable quantities were traced through distributors of medicines. When attempts were made to get them from Vijayawada, it was stopped in co-ordination with officials there, Mr. Udaya Bhaskar said.

Docs can prescribe

Mr. Udaya Bhaskar admitted that genuine patients might sometimes face difficulties because of the strict monitoring. "Doctors can prescribe the drugs in required quantity for such patients," he says.

A similar check is in place for the sale of drugs meant to increase sexual potency because of the side-effects they might have. Only endocrinologist, psychiatrists, dermatologists and urologists can prescribe them, he adds.