Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, December 3
The illegal sale of over five crore tablets of de-addiction drug Buprenorphine-Naloxone by private centres in 11 months has shocked the Punjab Government which has issued a notice to 23 de-addiction homes and a pharma company under the NDPS Act.
Buprenorphine-Naloxone is a highly addictive drug and its misuse can itself lead to addiction. For greater transparency, the government had last year put in place a standard operating procedure (SOP) for private and government centres, making it mandatory to upload the record of every tablet procured and dispensed on the Government Central Registry online in real time.
According to sources, the Food and Drug Administration collected and analysed data on the number of medicines procured and dispensed by these centres in the past 11 months (January-November). It found while 8.33 crore tablets of Buprenorphine-Naloxone were procured by 70 private centres, only 3.02 crore were sold online.
There is no trace of 5.3 crore tablets, which make up for 70 per cent of the total tablets dispensed in the past11 months.
The government suspects that either these had gone into the hands of unauthorised persons or were sold illegally. It has, hence, served a show-cause notice on 23 centres and an pharma based in Uttarakhand for “unaccounted” sale of three crore tablets. Also, a Chandigarh-based company has been found to have sold 65 lakh tablets.
Other centres have been issued notices under the Punjab Substance Use Disorder Treatment and Counselling and Rehabilitation Centres Rules 2011. Since Buprenorphine-Naloxone falls is a psychotropic substance, any illegal sale of the drug invites action under the NDPS Act. The state government has given licences to about 75 centres to sell the medicine.
Health Minister Balbir Singh Sidhu didn’t take calls despite several attempts. A message left with his staff failed to elicit a response.
Through a series of stories in January, The Tribune had first highlighted how the de-addiction drug had become the new addiction and was being
illegally smuggled by Uttrakhand and Gujarat-based pharmacies.
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