With a spate of drug-related deaths reported from across Punjab in the past few weeks, officials have issued orders banning sale of syringes without doctor’s prescription in several districts of Punjab.
Till the filing of this report, orders were issued in Fazilka, Bathinda, Faridkot, Ludhiana and Ferozepur districts under the section 144 of CrPC which gives special power to district magistrates to issue prohibitory orders.
Isha Kalia, deputy commissioner, Fazilka, said, “The decision to issue these orders has been taken by some deputy commissioners at their own level. Hence, we have also issued them. Syringes are being misused widely leading to loss of lives.”
Ramvir, deputy commissioner of Ferozepur, said orders were part of several steps being taken to control the drug menace in state. “We are following the advisory from higher authorities to take several steps to control drug problem. Banning sale of syringes without prescriptions is one of them,” he said.
Meanwhile, G S Chawla, president, Ludhiana District Chemist Association, said syringes were not covered by any Act under which its sale can be banned, but since they were being misused, they had already instructed shopkeepers not to sell them without prescriptions.
“Syringes are not covered under schedule-H1 of Drug and Cosmetic Act which makes it mandatory for chemists to keep a record of the buyers. But since they are being widely misused by drug addicts now, we issued instructions to all retailers and wholesalers on July 1 itself that they should not sell syringes without prescription,” he said.
He, however, said addicts also go to the level of reusing syringes and picking them from garbage dumps and hence catching infections and other problems like hepatitis. “It is fine that government is banning sale of syringes without prescription. We do not have a problem with it but reuse of syringes is another problem. In fact, it is even more dangerous and life threatening and leads to problems like HIV. Addicts pick up used ones from garbage dumps or hospitals or arrange them illegally,” he said.
He said a meeting of Punjab Chemists Association was also held in Chandigarh with health department officials in which it was clearly conveyed to chemists that syringes could not be sold without prescriptions now as per the orders of Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh.
Recently, several videos went viral on social media in which some addicts were lying dead with syringes inserted in their veins. In other videos, they can be seen injecting themselves.
When contacted, Principal Secretary (Health) Satish Chandra said the government had not issued any orders on sale of syringes.
He said the department was studying the issue because several chemists had brought it to the notice of the department that the syringes were sold online, sold as a package with medicines.
Chandra said the department did not want to cause harassment to genuine consumers by denying them syringes.
“For instance, diabetics dependent on insulin needed a new syringe everyday. We cannot cause harassment. We will have to study the issue. We will work out the details on Monday,” he said.