Schedule ‘H’ drug tramadol being sold without prescription in Punjab
Despite strict central regulations, tramadol, a painkiller, continues to find its way into Punjab. Though the local pharmaceutical Industry has limited the manufacturing of this opioid-based drug, it is being supplied from other states and is available over-the-counter at most drug stores across the state.
A schedule ‘H’ drug under the Drugs and Cosmetic Act, 1940, tramadol can only be sold under prescription of a registered medical petitioner for five days. The drug is already banned in many countries.
Checking the use of opioid-based drugs and heroin (chitta) was one of the main agendas of the Congress ahead of the assembly elections in the state following reports that tramadol was fast being used as a replacement to “chitta” and opium by addicts.
Punjab drug controller Pardeep Kumar Mattu said the department is making efforts to restrict sale of tramadol. “There is also a proposal to bring tramadol under the Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act,” he said.
At present, the illegal sale of tramadol is dealt with under the Drugs and Cosmetic Act and it’s the health department that confiscates and investigates such seizures.
Punjab Drug Manufacturers Association president Jagdeep Singh says pharmaceutical units here have almost stopped manufacturing tramadol. “But the only difference it has caused is that the retail price has shot up from Rs 5 per strip of 15 tablets to Rs 50-Rs 150. Strict regulations are required to stop its supply from other states. Genuine patients have been hit as they have to buy this drug at exorbitant rates now.”
Recently, the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO) instructed pharmaceutical units to regulate and maintain manufacture records of the highly abused drug. The Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) has also put restrictions on the formulations of tramadol and other combinations containing the drug.