Prescription drugs, controlled chemicals fuel illicit drug trade in India


India ranks among countries reporting opioid seizures, and concerns are rising over prescription drugs and their ingredients being increasingly diverted towards recreational use and illicit trade

Prescription drugs and their ingredients–or ‘precursors’–are being increasingly diverted for recreational use in India–the largest manufacturer of generic drugs in the world–as per the 2021 World Drug Report of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

In 2018, India amended its law to regulate the painkiller tramadol after being named a leading supplier in clandestine markets. The entire world’s annual seizures of the drug fell from 125 to 32 tons in a single year. But tramadol is only one of India’s growing drug problems.

India ranked among the 10 countries reporting the biggest opioid seizures in the world in 2019, the report said–India’s opium haul in 2019 was the fourth biggest in the world, and of morphine and heroin the seventh largest.

But the diversion of pharmaceutical drugs and ingredients is a relatively new trend. Can this diversion be controlled without impacting their medical use? We investigate.

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Business Standard, 22 July 2021