THE Directorate General of Drug Administration’s not lifting a finger to destroy the 15 tonnes of pseudoephedrine — a drug of the phenethylamine and amphetamine chemical classes which are legally imported but used in the illicit production of methamphetamine, a powerful, addictive stimulant that is mixed with caffeine to produce Yaba tablets — that nine importers have already in stock, by way of import in September–December 2016, is concerning as it entails the risk of society being exposed to a serious threat of the banned substance. The government in February banned the import of the drug, having no therapeutic value, which is considered a precursor to making methamphetamine and is readily separable from the composition that is available as tablets for the treatment of cold and related diseases. The government also cancelled the registration of all medicines produced with the banned substance. The drug administration directorate general even then appears unwilling to destroy the stock of pseudoephedrine. It has so far only asked pharmaceutical companies to withdraw and destroy all cold medicines that have used pseudoephedrine as an ingredient.
But the drug control committee has made no decision on destroying the stock, a concern also voiced by officials of the Department of Narcotics Control. The drug administration directorate general is reported to be setting up a four-member monitoring committee on stopping the misuse of pseudoephedrine. With no clear explanation for such inaction about the destruction of the huge pseudoephedrine stock coming from the officials responsible for drug administration, a couple of figures, as New Age reported on Friday, could lead to a public perception, or even a wild surmise, that might not sound well about the drug administration. A kilogram of pseudoephedrine, the import of which costs only $67, could be used to produce 4,00,000 Yaba tablets, which could, as New Age reported, fetch about $6,26,000. If the medicines that have been already produced using pseudoephedrine are withdrawn but the pseudoephedrine in stock is not destroyed, the risk and the threat remain. About 14.9 tonnes of pseudoephedrine were, according to the Department of Narcotics Control as reported by New Age in August 2016, imported in 2015–August 9, 2016. But Dhaka Customs House statistics that time showed an import of 31 tonnes of pseudoephedrine in the period.
The stock of pseudoephedrine, therefore, could be far greater than the 15 tonnes in question as the old stock may not have ended. The government, under the circumstances, must destroy the pseudoephedrine stock, old and new, to head off threat to society.
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