Hydrocodone tablets are often used to alleviate high-intensity pain, but of late, they have caused a headache for officers of the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB). The reason: the drug, which features on the list of substances banned under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, has gained favour with abusers.
In many countries, hydrocodone is a controlled drug, which it is sold on the prescription of a registered medical practitioner. On the other hand, in India, it is not sold, but its availability through international suppliers in cyber space has created an alarming situation for the NCB and other law enforcement agencies. The highest penetration of hydrocodone is in the US.
Hydrocodone tablets, being offered for sale via emails, are sold for anything between Rs500 and Rs1,500 each, and the minimum order quantity is 30 tablets.
Sources said the consumption of these tablets is high because they are cheaper than other contrabands, such as cocaine and heroin. One gram of cocaine is sold for anything between Rs5,000 and Rs6,000.
An NCB officer said the tablets are not only imported, but also manufactured illegally in local laboratories. “Last year, we had busted a group which sold contraband drugs through an online store. We had seized from them hydrocodone and pseudo-ephedrine tablets,” the officer said, adding that the effect on people after abuse or addictive consumption of hydrocodone is similar to that of heroin or morphine.
According to the officer, cyber patrolling is being conducted to keep its sale in check. But because it looks like a regular pill, NCB officials cannot distinguish between the contraband and permitted drugs.
An officer from Mumbai police said: “In recent raids, we found people consuming contraband drugs, but at times, it becomes difficult for us to distinguish between banned drugs and regular ones. It can be ascertained only when the samples are sent to laboratories for a chemical analysis. Also it is consumed like a medicine so there is no odour or any external signs which could help us identity that the person has consumed any such tablet. This makes it one of most serious and dangerous drugs being abused by people.”
By Divyesh Singh
Aug 23, 2010
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