The work of the Permanent Central Opium Board in 1960

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RAW MATERIALS
MANUFACTURED DRUGS

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Pages: 39 to 41
Creation Date: 1961/01/01

The work of the Permanent Central Opium Board in 1960

The Annual Report of the Permanent Central Opium Board to the Economic and Social Council on its work has been a regular item on the agenda of both the Council and the Commission on Narcotic Drugs. The report of the Board's work in 1960 (document E/OB/16) presents an overall picture of the legal trade in narcotics throughout the world in 1959, derived from the statistics submitted to the Board by governments in pursuance of the international conventions of 19 February 1925 and 13 July 1931 and of the Protocol of 19 November 1949. Extracts of the chapter of this report entitled: " Trends in the licit movement of drugs in 1959 " follow.

RAW MATERIALS

Raw Opium

Production reached 1,098 tons in 1959, the highest since 1953, when it amounted to 1,295 tons. In the intervening period it varied between 714 and 939 tons, the average being 805 tons. In 1959, India alone, with 763 tons, accounted for more than two-thirds of the total; Turkey came next with 168 tons, followed by the USSR with 132 tons. Production in the last few years has increased in India, fluctuated in Turkey and remained fairly stable in the USSR. The harvest in the other producing countries (Yugoslavia, Pakistan, Japan and Bulgaria) totalled 35 tons in 1959.

Total utilization of opium, after rising from 769 tons in 1956 to 989 tons in 1957, receded to 952 tons in 1958 and to 898 tons in 1959. Of these quantities 701 tons in 1956, 912 tons in 1957, 906 tons in 1958 and 886 tons in 1959 were used for medical purposes, mostly in the extraction of morphine, which in turn is mostly all converted into codeine.

Licit quasi- and non-medical use of opium is definitely on the decline, having fallen from 76 tons in 1957 to 46 tons in 1958 and 12 tons in 1959. In India, opium smoking was prohibited in 1946 except for a relatively small number of registered smokers, and measures were shortly afterwards introduced to terminate by 1959 the ingestion of opium for quasi-medical purposes. By the end of 1959 the number of consumers had been reduced to a figure which, though still large in absolute terms, is relatively small when compared with the total population and on this scale the problem should now be amenable to the comprehensive medical treatment recommended by the Indian Council of Medical Research in 1958. The progressive elimination of this form of opium consumption has thus in considerable measure been successfully carried through, and the Government of India is to be warmly congratulated on this important and courageous piece of social reform. In 1959, opium smoking was declared to be illicit in Thailand. This declaration is welcome, and it is to be hoped that effective steps will be taken to implement the Government's decision. In Pakistan also the smoking of opium is probibited, but its ingestion is still licit.

Allowing for the difference in the moisture content of opium, which is highest at the time of the harvest, production and utilization in 1959 were almost equal; thus, for the first time since 1953 it was possible to meet the demand without reducing stocks. On 31 December 1959, these stood at 860 tons, which is rather less than one year's requirements at the present rate of demand.

Poppy Straw

Under the Conventions, the only particulars supplied to the Board in respect of this substance relate to the amount used in the manufacture of morphine and the amount of morphine obtained.

The latter reached a maximum of 22 tons in 1958 and receded to 21 tons in 1959, representing in each year one-fifth of the total production of morphine. The proportion was higher in the period 1952 to 1954 - particularly in 1953, when a quarter of the total production of morphine was obtained from poppy straw. It is interesting to note that this form of manufacture is expanding in the Netherlands, whereas it seems to have been abandoned in the Federal Republic of Germany.

Coca Leaves

The production of coca leaves has pratically ceased outside South America; and, so far as the Board is aware, Peru, Bolivia and Colombia are now the only producing countries of any importance. The figures are as follows (in tons):

 

Average

 
1953-1957
1958
1959
Peru
9,844 9,379 9,027
Bolivia
2,875*
2,627 2,124
Colombia
169 120 100
Other countries
20 10
Negligible
Total
12 908 12 136 11 251

* Average for 1954 and 1957.

It should be noted that the Bolivian figures for 1958 and 1959 relate only to the Department of La Paz, and that those of Colombia - and presumably also of Peru - are approximations.

Compared with these figures, the amounts of coca leaves used for medical purposes- that is to say the manufacture of cocaine, are very small: 259 tons in 1959, or 2% of the total production. In fact, even allowing for their use in the illicit manufacture of cocaine, the greater part of the leaves harvested are chewed by inhabitants of the Andean region of South America. The statistics supplied to the Board indicate that the following quantities were so consumed during the period 1955-1959 (in tons):

 
1955
1956
1957
1958
1959
Peru
9,319 9,450 9,954 9,203 8,789
Bolivia
?
?
2,590 2,495 2,104
Argentina
155 14 152 80 115
Colombia
100 80 32 29 28

Cannabis

In the opinion of the World Health Organization, the medical use of cannabis is obsolete. In 1959, it was still taking place in 16 countries, including India, where the drug is also used in indigenous medicine. The total amount consumed was, however, very small - 576 kg, of which India accounted for more than half.

MANUFACTURED DRUGS

Morphine

Over the past three years the production of morphine has remained virtually constant: 109 tons in 1957, 112 tons in 1958 and 108 tons in 1959, but at a substantially higher level than during the preceding triennium, when average annual production was 87 tons.

This trend follows the pattern of the demand for codeine, since 85% to 89% of the morphine produced is subsequently converted into that drug, while 8% to 10% is used to manufacture other derivatives, mainly ethylmorphine. Four countries, the United States, the United Kingdom, the USSR and the Federal Republic of Germany, account for 60% of the total production and since 1957 their individual output has not varied greatly from year to year. Fluctuations are wider among the remaining 21 producing countries, but the amounts involved are relatively small.

The demand for morphine as such is decreasing: from 4.6 tons in 1955 to 4.2 tons in 1959. This is so in 26 out of the 38 countries where the annual consumption is 1 kg or more per million inhabitants, the most notable decreases occurring in Norway, Finland, the United Kingdom, Denmark, New Zealand and Australia. It is to be observed, however, that Denmark, Norway and the United Kingdom were still the major per capita consumers of morphine in 1959, followed by Switzerland and Australia.

Diacetylmorphine

Production has continued to decrease over the past five years, falling from 139 kg in 1955 to 79 kg in 1959. Consumption also has continued to decrease: the number of countries consuming 1 kg or more fell from eleven in 1955 to five in 1959 (United Kingdom, Belgium, France, Czechoslovakia and Portugal), and total consumption declined from 147 kg in 1955 to 58 kg in 1959.

Moreover, some diacetylmorphine (21 kg in 1955 and 13 kg in 1959) was used for the manufacture of nalorphine, which is a non-addiction-producing substance, and for reconversion into morphine.

Codeine

The consumption of codeine has risen sharply, from 77 tons in 1956 to 90 tons in 1957, and 91 tons in 1959. Codeine is also used (2.8 tons in 1959) for the manufacture of other narcotic drugs such as dihydrocodeine and hydrocodone.

Production rose from 80 tons in 1956 to 97 tons in 1957 and 98 tons in 1959, and the surplus has gone into stocks, which at the end of 1959 amounted to 46 tons, or approximately six months' consumption.

While codeine is consumed the world over, five countries - namely, the USSR, the United States, the United Kingdom, France and the Federal Republic of Germany - account together for 60% of the total. Consumption per million inhabitants in 1959 was highest in Denmark, Finland, Australia, Iceland and the United Kingdom; Denmark was leading, with 410 kg. That country, together with Australia and the United Kingdom, also appeared among the largest per capita consumers of morphine.

Ethylmorphine

Consumption of ethylmorphine, which in 1958 had declined to 6.5 tons, rose again to 7.1 tons in 1959. Almost 30% of this quantity was consumed in France, where the amount per million inhabitants was also the highest - 36.3 kg in 1959. Finland, Sweden and Hungary came next with a figure of some 30 kg; in no other country did it reach 20 kg.

Production, which advanced by one-third from 1956 to 1957, continued to rise, though less markedly, and reached 8.2 tons in 1959. It exceeded consumption in each of the last three years, the surplus being added to stocks.

Other derivatives of opium alkaloids

Consumption of these derivatives is shown below for the period 1955-1959 (in kilogrammes):

 
1955
1956
1957
1958
1959
Dihydrocodeine
996 1,351 2,001 2,370 2,078
Pholcodine
512 651 953 863 1,249
Hydrocodone
715 792 1,036 1,053 1,120
Oxycodone
302 371 435 426 453
Thebacon
115 128 130 128 131
Benzylmorphine
44 57 80 56 80
Hydromorphone
82 90 89 76 64
Acetyldihydrocodeine
2 4 4 8 3
Nicomorphine
-
-
-
1 2
Oxymorphone
-
-
-
-
2
Desomorphine
-
-
1
-
-
Metopon
-
-
1
-
-
Dihydromorphine
-
2
-
-
-

The figures do not include consumption in countries or territories where it did not reach 1 kg per annum; the real totals, if it were possible to compute them, would therefore be slightly higher. Even so, it is clear from the table that consumption of these drugs, with the exception of hydromorphone, has increased since 1955.

Crude Cocaine

Peru alone produces crude cocaine for export, the refining process being carried out in the importing countries. After an interruption in 1957, production was resumed in 1958 and amounted to 155 kg, rising to 449 kg in 1959. In other countries the production of crude cocaine is merely a stage in the continuous process of the manufacture of cocaine.

Cocaine

The steady decrease in cocaine consumption noted since 1955 was even more marked in 1959, the figure for that year (1,307 kg) being one-third lower than that for 1954. The production figures were 2,593 kg in 1955, 1,413 kg in 1958 and 898 kg in 1959. Since 1955, the demand has been met through withdrawals from stocks, and these have accordingly diminished by one-half.

Pethidine

During the years 1955 to 1959, the annual production of pethidine remained between 14 and 15 tons, except in 1958, when it dropped to 13 tons.

From 1955 to 1958 the annual consumption of pethidine remained between 13 and 14 tons; in 1959 it rose to 14.6 tons. Two-thirds of that total, or 9.2 tons, were consumed in the United States alone. That country's per capita consumption is also the largest, Denmark, New Zealand, Iceland and Canada coming next.

Trimeperidine

This is a substance of the pethidine type; it is produced and used only in the USSR.

 
Production
Consumption
 
(Kilogrammes)
1957 1,845 1,245
1958 1,078 1,400
1959 592 784

These figures cover too short a period to warrant the conclusion that the drug is losing favour.

Normethadone

The Federal Republic of Germany, which is the largest producer and exporter, and probably the largest consumer of normethadone, has sent no statistics regarding this drug, except for the year 1956. Six further countries or territories have reported a consumption of at least 1 kg in 1959.

Racemoramide

In 1958 and 1959 production took place only in the Netherlands, where it amounted to 457 kg and 1,067 kg respectively. It appears that only the dextrorotatory isomer, that is to say dextromoramide, has been consumed or exported. The entire production of racemoramide, apart from 9 kg which remained in stock, went into the manufacture of dextromoramide, in the course of which levomoramide appeared as a by-product.

Dextromoramide

In 1958 and 1959, the Netherlands produced 147 kg and 375 kg, respectively, mainly for export, while Italy produced 3 kg and 2 kg. In the United States, 5 kg were obtained in 1959, probably from the partly manufactured drug exported from the Netherlands.

Consumption in these two years amounted to 123 kg and 144 kg, respectively, of which 45% was in France, while the balance was shared by nine other countries in 1958 and by 15 in 1959.

Dextromoramide must also have been consumed in the Federal Republic of Germany, to which 12 kg were exported in 1958 and 24 kg in 1959. This country did not, however, furnish statistics for the drug until the second quarter of 1960.

Levomoramide

This drug has been produced only in the Netherlands and only as a by-product of the manufacture of dextromoramide, the quantities being 140 kg in 1958 and 370 kg in 1959, all of which went into stock.

Methadone

Consumption fell from 570 kg in 1954 to 440 kg in 1958 and remained at that level in 1959.

Ketobemidone

The over-all consumption of this drug in 1959 again shows no appreciable change. Production shows an upward trend, but is still lower than in 1952 and 1953, when it exceeded 100 kg.

Other Synthetic Narcotic Drugs

Thirty-eight other synthetic narcotic drugs are now under international control, none of which, apart from anileridine, is manufactured or consumed in large quantities. Indeed, as already noted last year, anileridine is only produced and consumed in fairly large quantities in the United States.