Uttar Pradesh government has ordered that consumers in the state will no longer be able to buy more than one unit of codeine-based cough syrup since it is powerfully addictive, following the food and drug department order. A.K. Jain, the drug controller of Uttar Pradesh, said that all kinds of cough syrups contain codeine, a medical derivative and a pro-drug of opium used to treat pain, coughing and diarrhoea. Codeine has mild pain-relieving properties but is a powerful drug to which one can get addicted. Jain cited provisions under rules 51 and 52 of the Uttar Pradesh Drug Rules.
He said that the number of units a company can buy and sell is restricted to restrict its misuse. As per the order, company depots and C&F agents can store any packing of codeine-based cough syrup but sell only 500 units of the same. On the other hand, Wholesalers can store 1,000 units of syrup but sell not more than 100 units of the formulation, and retailers can keep not more than 100 units of the same and sell only one to a single customer. The exact order also regulates the sale of high-intensity painkillers based on compounds like tramadol, pentazocine and buprenorphine, and antidepressants like alprazolam clonazepam, nitrazepam, and diazepam in all strengths and combinations.
As per the order, tramadol-based painkillers will be provided only on a medical prescription, though they can buy 20 tablets/capsules/ampoules of alprazolam and clonazepam. Ten units of nitrazepam and pentazocine are allowed. Also, not more than ten tablets of buprenorphine-based pain killers can be bought by individuals. The order, however, allows having more than the prescribed stock if there is a valid reason for it. But such traders have to produce purchase-sale documents for the past two years and obtain orders before stocking more than the prescribed limits.
Along with pain killers, restriction has also been imposed on antidepressants since they belong to India's Schedule -H of Drugs manual. Hence they cannot be bought over the counter, meaning a prescription must be. The decision comes after the Union government decides to check the misuse of narcotics-based medicines in the country.According to the association of international doctors, this restriction would check medicine misuse of counterfeit drugs, thus strengthening vigilance from manufacturing to sale.
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