Misuse of prescription drugs major problem in South Asia

The drug problem affects communities globally and therefore it is the shared responsibility of the world community to address it jointly, states the Annual Report of the International Narcotics Control Board 2012. With regard to South Asia, the report highlights that pharmaceutical preparations are being diverted from pharmaceutical industries leading to a major abuse problem.

The report, which was presented in New Delhi by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and the United Nations Information Center highlights that the proliferation of new psychoactive substances also known as 'designer drugs' is a growing threat to public health all over the world.  The report also notes that the misuse of prescription drugs like the medication used for the treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is on the rise.

Dr Rajat Ray, Board Member of the INCB presented the key findings of the report including the trends in South Asia where drug use and trafficking is on the rise. In Bangladesh, trafficking of codeine-based cough syrups and 'Yaba' tablets has increased considerably, while the diversion of pharmaceutical preparations continues to be a cause for concern in India. The report acknowledges policy, legislative and law enforcement measures taken by the Governments of South Asia to address the evolving challenges.

The presentation of the findings of the report was followed by a presentation by  Ms. Cristina Albertin, UNODC Representative, South Asia on how UNODC responds to the findings of the INCB report and the challenges in the region, emphasizing UNODC's focus on strengthening  regional cooperation to address drug trafficking and other forms of organized crime.

Representatives of the Government of India addressed the audience by describing how their respective Ministries are responding to the drug challenge in India. Mr. T R Meena, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment spoke about the role of the Ministry in creating awareness about the harmful effects of drugs and the services offered to recovering drug users.  Mr. M L Meena, Joint Secretary, Department of Revenue, Government of India analyzed the report with regard to gaps in research and monitoring of psychotropic substances. Mr. Rajiv Mehta, Director General, Narcotics Control Bureau, Ministry of Home Affairs was quizzed on a series of questions related to  drug seizures on the borders and  capacities of drug law enforcement agencies to respond to these challenges.

The event was attended by Representatives from the Government, diplomatic community, the UN, civil society and the media.

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To know more about the INCB, visit www.incb.org