Tamil Nadu: Pharmacies told to not sell 1 ml syringes to strangers to curb drug abuse

Sources say anti-social elements have been known to use painkillers and anaesthetic drugs, which are scheduled drugs that can only be bought with a doctor's prescription.
Food Safety and Drug Administration Department put out informal instructions to curb drug abuse. Image used for representation.
Food Safety and Drug Administration Department put out informal instructions to curb drug abuse. Image used for representation.(Photo | AP)

COIMBATORE: Pharmacies have been advised to sell 1 and 2 ML syringes that are used by people with diabetes for taking insulin shots only to known customers. The Food Safety and Drug Administration Department's informal instruction aims to curb drug abuse.

However, this is set to inconvenience diabetic patients who regularly take insulin if they can't produce the prescription at a new shop or place.

"The sale of scheduled drugs has almost been regulated and brought under complete surveillance. On the other hand, the police investigation revealed that most insulin syringes are used in drug abuse cases. So we have advised pharmacies not to sell those syringes to unknown people, as they approach pharmacies on the pretext of buying syringes for insulin shots. We are making all the efforts in whatever form we can to prevent drug abuse," said S Gurubharathi, Assistant Director of the Drug Control, Coimbatore zone.

Sources say anti-social elements have been known to use painkillers and anaesthetic drugs, which are scheduled drugs that can only be bought with a doctor's prescription. These drugs are often crushed into powder and mixed with IV fluids before being injected into veins to produce a state of intoxication.

While the constant efforts of the police and the Food Safety and Drug Administration Department have resulted in a reduction in drug abuse incidents, some drugs are still being purchased online or from other states and used for intoxication.

To tackle this issue and prevent drug abuse, the aforementioned department has instructed pharmacies not to sell syringes to unknown or suspicious individuals since most insulin syringes are used in drug abuse cases. This step is crucial to prevent drug abuse, but it can also put patients with diabetes at risk. Patients may only be able to purchase the needle at pharmacies where they are known by the sellers, and buying at a new location may pose trouble.

Diabetic patients are usually prescribed insulin by doctors based on their blood sugar levels. They can take insulin in various ways, such as vials and syringes, insulin pens, or insulin pumps. However, most pharmacies do not sell 6 mm syringes to new customers, which can be frustrating for patients who need to purchase insulin syringes at a new location.

"Taking insulin by injection is the most common practice as it is cost-effective. However, most pharmacies do not sell 1 or 2ml syringes to new customers. Recently, I was supposed to take insulin before lunch. I sent my son to a nearby pharmacy to get a syringe. However, they refused to give it to him. After I went in person and explained my situation and showed the medicine vials, they gave me the syringes. I appreciate the effort in preventing drug abuse but patients will suffer at new places," M Sreedharan, a retired bank employee said.

While it is essential to prevent drug abuse, patients should not be put at risk due to these restrictions. It is important to balance the need to prevent drug abuse with the need to ensure that patients have access to the necessary medical supplies, he added.

Meanwhile, pharmacists have also voiced their concerns about selling syringes to new customers as syringes are often considered evidence by the police in drug abuse cases, which can cause trouble for the pharmacy.
"Anyone can buy the syringes even without a doctor's prescription. But if the usage is unethical, we land in trouble. Also, there is no huge profit in selling such syringes. So we avoid selling them to new people. We only sell them to the existing customers who are known for insulin purchase," said M Kaviarasu, a city-based pharmacist.

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