Govt issues new guidelines to curb misuse of de-addiction drug

The cases of smuggling have been reported where one tablet is sold at Rs 250

punjab Updated: Aug 03, 2018 10:42 IST
Ravinder Vasudeva
Ravinder Vasudeva
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
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The government had been flooded with reports on the misuse of BNX and large-scale overcharging. (Shutterstock)

To curb malpractices like the overuse of Buprenorphine-Naloxone (BNX), a drug used to wean people addicted to narcotics and psychotropic substances, at private de-addiction centres, the Punjab health department has finalised new Standard Operational Procedures (SOPs) for these centres.

The government had been flooded with reports on the misuse of BNX and large-scale overcharging. It is available for ₹4.38 in government-run de-addiction centres of Punjab, but was reportedly being sold in private de-addiction centres at the anywhere between ₹20 and ₹100. Health minister Brahm Mohindra said the new guidelines had taken immediate effect.

Under the new SOPs, the department would verify the supply and availability of the BNX in private de-addiction centres and also directed them to move away from manual entries on the distribution of the drug.

“Complete details of patients must be updated on the Central server that the health department has developed and private de-addiction centres will have to fill details of every report of the patient on that server,” the new guidelines say. The information sought includes the quantity of BNX stock at the end of each day, the quantity received from the supplier and the total quality of medicine dispensed during the day.

It has also been made compulsory for private centres to give BNX only after registering the patient through biometric. “The will stop the proxy use of the drugs in private centres,” a senior department functionary claimed, adding that BNX would also not be given to patients in bulk.

To begin with, de-addiction patients should be given doses for 3-5 days and after three such consecutive visits, doses for seven days should be given in one visit. “Each visit will be registered on biometric and details must be sent to the central server maintained by the department,” the official added.

There were reports that private drug de-addiction centres were reportedly providing of 15 day to a month.Also, there have been incidents of buprenorphine tablets being smuggled out and sold to addicts (looking for a high) at ₹250 per tablet.

“Private centres, who violate these procedures shall be dealt stringently. We are making special raiding teams to check the supply and record of BNX in these centres,” said the minister.

‘Don’t use BNX indiscriminately’

The new guidelines have also cautioned private centres against prescribing BNX for every patient that visits the centre. “A common practice in these centres is that even if the patient is addicted to very low-potency opioids like poppy husk (bhukki-doda), low-quality opium, codeine cough syrups, propoxyphene capsules (Proxyvon, Spasmoproxyvon etc), BNX was being supplied from the very start of treatment,” pointed out a senior functionary.

The new guidelines say BNX should not be used for all cases of opioid use unless dependency is established. Before starting treatment, private de-addiction centres would submit tests of the addicts on the central server so that the misuse of the BNX can be stopped, the new guidelines also mandate.

Some new guidelines
  • Supply and prescription of BNX to be updated daily
  • Treat addicts after registering them on biometric
  • For every missed follow-up visit, urine screening will be mandatory on the next visit.
  • Maximum take-home dose of seven days can be given to a patient

First Published: Aug 03, 2018 10:36 IST