Home To Huge Pharma Industry, India Taking Steps To Fight Opioids
NEW YORK, NY (IANS) – India is being proactive in countering the illegal diversion of materials from its sprawling pharmaceutical industries and the use of an army of “underemployed” highly qualified chemists to make illegal synthetic drugs, according to the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB).
The observation about India was made amid a warning that the global demand for synthetic drugs “continues to grow” and “illicit manufacturing and trafficking organizations are expected to increase their global activities”.
Unlike the drugs that are derived from plant materials, synthetic drugs like opioids, methamphetamine, Ecstasy (which is also known by its chemical initials MDMA) and ketamine are made from chemicals.
The annual report released by INCB President Jagjit Pavadia on March 10 said, “India, which is home to a large chemical and pharmaceutical industry, has witnessed the rise of commercial chemical factories that have been adapted to illicitly manufacture large quantities of synthetic drugs and their precursors. This development has been driven by the availability of highly qualified but underemployed chemists, who are susceptible to recruitment by criminal organizations,” said the report from the Vienna-based organization, which is a part of the UN.
“More proactive regulations are being developed and coordination among government agencies is being improved in order to facilitate the early detection and scheduling of new psychoactive substances,” it said. “In addition, the regulation of online drug sales is being improved, and both traditional and digital investigative capacities are being enhanced,” the report added.
The report said that according to India’s Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, about 23 million people aged 10 to 75 have used drugs, mainly heroin and pharmaceutical opioids.
An estimated 8 million people were registered for opioid use disorders in India, it added.
The report said that there has been an alarming rise in the number of illicit drugs interdicted by authorities in India. India seized 364 kg of cocaine in 2021 while in the previous three years, they averaged only about 40 kg, it said.
The report warned against the legalization of cannabis – marijuana – that is taking place in several countries around the world.
Pavadia said, “Evidence suggests that cannabis legalization has not been successful in dissuading young people from using cannabis, and illicit markets persist”.
She expressed concern “about the expanding cannabis industry, which markets cannabis-based products in ways that appeal to young people, and about the playing down of harms associated with using high-potency cannabis products”.