Hyderabad: Fentanyl, an opioid, is sold in the local market on a doctor’s prescription. Costing Rs 600 per injection, it is a medication for excruciating pain, primarily prescribed for cancer patients. The illicit use of Fentanyl is of growing concern in Asia, Africa and acute in the US as it has killed over 70,000 globally.
Labelled as a ‘horror drug’, it is being mixed with cocaine and heroin. It comes in the form of an injection and patches and is said to relax the skeleton muscle after intake. The effect lasts for 1 to 2 hours. It gives a rapid kick (psychological relief), so drug addicts use small quantity in the form of injections
The Narcotics Control Bureau seized a large quantity of Fentanyl in 2017 in Delhi. India has no statistics of death due to Fentanyl, as it has not started to maintain such statistics.
When mixed with other drugs like cocaine, Fentanyl works by blocking pain receptors in the brain and increases production of the ‘happiness-inducing’ chemical dopamine. The common names in the drug circuit for Fentanyl is Apache, China Girl, China White, Dance Fever and Crush. It is available in brands such as Actiq, Duragesic, Fentora, Onsolis, Sublimaze and Instanyl.
“China was the first to manufacture and export it to the US, Mexico, Asia and West Asia. Indian pharma labs have also begun to manufacture it. Fentanyl is scheduled under the X category of the Indian Drug Control Act, 1945. This means that the pharmacist should only sell it under a doctor’s prescription and there should be a drug supervisor during purchase,” said Dr Akula Sanjay Reddy, pharmacologist and president of the Telangana Pharmacy Association. “However, due to the absence of both, Fentanyl is being misused,” he said.
He said Fentanyl is used for chronic cancer pain, not any ordinary body aces; it is used by placing the patch on the skin or through an injection. When mixed with heroin and cocaine, Fentanyl works immediately to relax the skeleton muscle and give a rapid kick (psychological relief), so drug addicts use small quantity in the form of injections.
“India does have addiction problems. Home Minister Rajnath Singh specifically acknowledged that addiction to tramadol and Fentanyl is a growing problem. An overdose of Fentanyl with any other drug can claim a life,” said a senior officer with the Narcotic Control Bureau, Bengaluru.
The government acknow-ledgement has not been sufficient; the government corruption plays a role with pharmaceutical corporations, wholesale exporters, and internet companies responsible for the illicit flow of opioids out of India, he said.
The Centre for Strategic & International Studies carried out research on the opioid crisis. Fentanyl has become the centre of the opioid crisis in the US. Reportedly, 1.25 crore people in the United States have abused opioids. In October, US President Donald Trump declared the opioid crisis a public health emergency.
He asked China to crack down using the death penalty. Considered to be the worst, the most dangerous, addictive and deadly substance of them all, Fentanyl caused the death of over 77,000 people last year. If China cracks down on this drug using the death penalty for distributors and pushers, the results will be incredible....