July 10, 2004

Perils of a cough syrup aggrevated by smuggling

Phensidyl is a codeine based popular cough syrup, which the kids like me were used to be prescribed in late 70s. Some discovered that if the whole bottle is consumed then it acts like a narcotic. In the early 80s, it was banned in Bangladesh under the new drug policy. But consumption of Phensidyl increased day-by-day since it became a contraband item. When Bangladeshi companies stopped producing it, Indian companies picked up the production adding sedative drugs to meet the demand through smuggling. Till today more than 3,000 of illegal drug factories were set up at bordering Indian villages and semi-urban areas along the India Bangladesh border. According to an Indian source, phensidyl is also being produced in Gujarat, Maharastra, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Tripura, Orissa, Rajasthan and other states of India maintaining a relatively higher quality but little of the "quality drugs" reach to Bangladesh. These drugs are rarely consumed in India and almost wholly smuggled to Bangladesh. Because of the availability of liquor in India this has not made any impact among the Indian youths. But as liquor is banned in Bangladesh, Phensidyl has become popular among the youth as a drug. Moreover it generates no bad odor from the person who consumes it and usually arouse no extreme behaviors in them. The consumer becomes numb and feels drowsy. So the consumption is usually undetectable by the parents and surroundings. The authorities in Bangladesh are trying in vain to control the peddling of Phensidyl within Bangladesh.

This report claims that:

The frontier villagers believe that a section of Indian village level leadership or Panchayet, Border security Force (BSF) officials, some political leaders were actively supporting the drug production but do not allow their marketing in India.

The Border Security Force in India, Bangladesh Rifles, coastguard, customs and police all are beneficiaries of this trade in Bangladesh. The fact that should rise concern of many that there are some 20 lakh drug addicts in Bangladesh and they spend Tk 134 crore a month on drugs. A large portion of them are Phensidyl addicts.

Now both India and Bangladesh should look into the issue seriously and stop the smuggling. If this can be prevented then the illegal productions along the border regions will shut down and millions can be saved from this cough syrup turned drug.

On other hand this reveals why there is a rise in motorcycle theft in greater Kolkata (India) in this monsoon season.

The vehicles are smuggled into Bangladesh. The four-stroke engines of motorcycles are fitted in country boats in Bangladesh. The demand rises during the monsoon, when more boats are in operation.

Another reason to curb illegal border trade both by Bangladesh & India for the benefit of both the countries.


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