Abuse of prescription drugs in Northeastern has reduced, thanks to sustained efforts by the Pharmacy and Poisons Board.
PPB regional inspector Ali Omar said youths were buying diazepam, rohypnol, lexatanil, midazolam, benylin, codeine and other codeine containing drugs from chemists to get intoxicated.
Speaking to reporters in Garissa town yesterday, Omar said a ban imposed on the sale of the drugs in chemists has hugely contributed to the reduction in abuse cases.
The drugs can only be sold to a person with a written prescription from a doctor. Most youths were using the drugs as accompaniment for miraa and muguka chewing.
Omar yesterday accompanied police in a sting operation on pharmacies, shops, kiosk and miraa dens believed to be secretly selling the drugs. Six people were arrested.
"They will be taken to court," Omar said. The official thanked elders and clerics for joining the campaign to sensitise youths on the use of the drugs.
The clerics were used to speak to parents of youths hooked to the drugs to advise their children against drug abuse.
The ban on the sale of the drugs was imposed last year after residents raised alarm over increased abuse of prescription medicines.
“It was a worrying trend to see a high number of young men getting hooked to prescription drugs without knowing the adverse effects of such drugs,” Omar said.
A bottle of codeine is now sold at Sh600, up from Sh200 to discourage its use. The drug is used to treat pain as a cough medicine but local youths were mixing it with soda as an accompaniment for miraa.
It used to be sold disguised as a soda. "We will continue to arrest those selling the drug. We know some people are still selling it secretly," Omar said.
Investigations by the Star found that most chemists have stopped the sale of the drugs unless one has a letter stamped and signed by a known doctor.
But miraa dens still sell some of the drugs to a few trusted customers. "Things have changed. It is very difficult to get the drugs," a former addict who did not want to be named said.