Tuesday, 9 June 2015

This medicine comes with an opium kick

CHANDIGARH: Here's an ayurvedic medicine that contains pure opium, also known as "afeem". Each tablet of Kamini Vidrawan Ras, which is sold at chemist shops as a herbal formulation, contains 160 mg of pure opium, a study by the PGI had claimed in 2010.

While TOI had on Saturday exposed the practice of the medicine's sale over the counter, the PGI's Drug De-addiction and Treatment Centre has since 2008 been seeing young addicts hooked to such herbal formulations. Under the garb of ayurvedic medicines which do not fall under any drug authority regulation, the herbal formulation is sold openly and is abused widely by addicts in the city and its periphery.

It was inferred during the study that those addicted to the herbal formulation 'Kamini' on an average consumed 300 mg to 2,400 mg of pure opium from the medicine. The study, 'Herbal Medicines: Perfect Garb for Opioid Abuse? A Case Series from India', was published in The American Journal on Addiction in 2010. It revealed that out of 29 patients who abused herbal medicines as drug, 21 were hooked to Kamini, followed by the Unani preparation Barshasha and 'Dr Jagdeep's Herbal Medicine' (one patient each). Barshasha, like Kamini, contain pure opium. Kamini tablets obtained from two of the patients had also tested positive for morphine. "Ayurvedic medicines are not under our drug regulation and do not require any licence. We know about the common abuse of the medicine, which is otherwise used for sexual enhancement. We can only spread awareness and ask sellers not to sell such substances for abuse," said Sunil Chaudhary, drug control officer, Chandigarh.

The DDTC is still seeing such patients of all kinds of age group. "We do see addicts who have been abusing ayurvedic drugs like Kamini. Some of them use it for its main purpose of sexual enhancement, but get hooked to it subsequently for its high," said a doctor at the PGI, on the condition of anonymity.

The study was conducted by Dr Debasish Basu, Dr Navendu Gaur, Dr Partha Pratim Das, and Dr Surendra K Mattoo. The most commonly abused herbal medicine was Kamini.

The study documented that "no patient reported any difficulty in obtaining and procuring the herbal medications from the shops dispensing such medications over the counter".