Drug Traffickers Use Medication To Make Narcotics, Police Say

A new law is in the works to allow ministries to share information in order to regulate the selling of legal drugs in the country, the National Authority for Combating Drugs said yesterday.

At a Phnom Penh workshop org­anized by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, Moek Dara, secretary-general of the NACD, said that an early draft of the law is currently being passed around various ministries for their input.

He said more control on the sale, as well as the import and export of legal drugs was required to curb the use of such medicine for illegal drug manufacturing among international drug gangs.

A new process for illegal drug manufacturing came to light during a police raid on a drug laboratory in Phnom Penh in October, where 5 kg of cold medicine was being used to extract pseudo-ephedrine for the production of methamphetamine, Mr Dara said.

“We suppressed them immediately, they had not been able to produce yet, but if we relax we will have problems,” he said. “Some pharmacies sell $5,000 worth of cold medicine, what kind of prescription is that?” he asked.

“This is a new problem for Cambodia, but it’s old in other countries.”

Mr Voeung Jimheang, chief of the department of marketing, narcotics control and pharmacy at the Ministry of Health, said the ministry was already monitoring and reporting suspicious amounts of legal drug orders.

“We always take care if buyers orders large amounts of pills. Then we need to report to the Ministry of Health, we have a warning since 2007. Also when we have an large import of medicine,” Dr Jimheang said.

Graham Shaw, technical officer with the World Health Organi­za­tion, said the extraction of chemicals from medicine for use in illicit drug manufacturing is a global problem.

“It’s good the government is doing something about it,” Mr Shaw said, adding, “The difficulty would be in controlling pharmacies and sales of prescription drugs.”


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