Medicinal or narcotic drugs?

A. Kolobov, Kharkiv
In 1990 the Ukrainian medical authorities formed a list of drugs that were related to narcotic ones, for which the especially stringent procedure of keeping and handing our was determined. Among these drugs there were several widely used in medical treatment. In 1997 this list was extended: some tranquilizers (relanium, sibason, tazepam, etc.), as well as some anti-spasmodic remedies (phenobarbital and its derivatives) were included to the list. What was the purpose of this resolution and what were the results?

The purpose was obvious . to terminate or at least reduce misuse of these remedies. The consequences appeared to be rather unpleasant.

The doctors, who applied these remedies in the treatment of patients, were obliged to write out prescriptions on special blanks (so called . pink blanks. ). The number of such blanks handed to a doctor is small and each time, when a doctor writes out such prescription, he must get the permission of the administration. Often the offices of doctors and administrators are far away, and in any case a doctor must waste much time, which he could devote to treatment.

The new procedure appeared very troublesome to the sick, who need these remedies. Most of them suffer from insomnia, phobias, stresses, etc. Another group are those who apply phenobarbital and sibason for preventing cramps, especially epileptics. Each spasmodic fit can lead to irreversible changes of the cerebral brain, which lead, in the final count, to imbecility. Certainly, the above-mentioned drugs are not the only anti-spasmodic remedies, but the others are even more difficult to get.

At the black market the prices of tranquilizers soared, since they include the pay for risk: now the punishment for selling tranquilizers is such as for pushing narcotic drugs.

No serious statistical studies about the use of tranquilizers as narcotic drugs are available. According to the data obtained in early 80s, misuse of tranquilizers is infrequent.

How dangerous are tranquilizers? On the one hand, they may cause narcotic dependence, on the other hand, they are recommended for treatment in therapeutic and surgical practice, to say nothing about treatment of psychic cases.

The fact that patients, especially chronic patients, cannot get tranquilizers at the needed moment and in the needed quantity is, in my opinion, a much greater damage than the probability to become dependent of the drug. Besides, the patients seek and find tranquilizers at the black market, thus violating the Penal Code and running the risk to be drawn to the punishment.

In West European countries practically all remedies (including narcotic-drug-containing preparations) are sold by prescriptions signed by the family doctor. There the authority of a medical doctor is great, and the doctors are controlled, first of all, by medical associations, and not by the state.

On 1 September 1999 the Supreme Rada of Ukraine adopted the new law . On circulation of narcotic drugs and precursors. . Will the new law improve the present state depends on the instructions and list of preparations that will be issued by the Ministry of Health. We hope that the professionals from the Ministry of Health will be reasonable.
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