Kochi: Even as the illicit sale of medicines containing narcotic substances is showing a rising trend in the district, the Drug Control Department is groping in the dark. The authorities cited the inadequate number of drug inspectors to monitor the activities as the primary reason behind the issue. Licences of 11 medical shops were suspended in the last 45 days in the Ernakulam range covering Ernakulam, Alappuzha and Idukki districts.
M R Pradeep, assistant drugs controller, Ernakulam, said that the flouting of rules has become a common practice. “There are more than 4,000 medical shops in these three districts alone, while the number of drug inspectors is limited to 10. Each inspector is expected to monitor 30 shops in a month. Hence only 3,600 medical shops can be inspected in a year. Rules are being flouted, but we are helpless to an extent,” he said.
In a recent study carried out by the Narcotics Control Bureau, the district ranked second in the list of total number of drug users, with Kozhikode topping the list. Though there are 22,000 medical shops in the state, the number of drug inspectors are as low as 48. The actual requirement of inspectors stand at 110.
Illegal sales of psychotropic drugs (drugs that affect the central nervous system and brain function, changing the behaviour, perception and habits) are on the rise in Perumbavoor, Kothamangalam and Muvattupuzha. College students and migrant labourers are the major consumers of these drugs.
Pradeep said that such incidents were also reported from Piravom, Koothattukulam and Aluva. “Since the drug Phensedyl is cheaper here (`75 for 100 ml) migrant labours are consuming it on a large scale. In the northern states, the drug costs around Rs 500 per 100 ml. Cavarta and Spasmo Proxyvon tablets are in high demand among the college students because this gives an instant euphoria and is devoid of smell,” he said.
Drugs like Corex and Phensedyl, containing codeine phosphate, are often sold by the medical shops without proper prescription. “The continuous usage of the drug will lead to the failure of kidneys and liver,” he said. "The drug Fortwin, a pain killer, is also sold in large numbers by the medical shops without any prescription,” Pradeep added.