Oversight needed to stop illicit supply chain diversion

By Nick Taylor

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Morphine Pharmacology

Governments must close loopholes and increase oversight to prevent diversion of pharmaceutical formulations into illicit supply chains.

Diversion of narcotic or psychotropic medicines, as well those containing precursors, into illicit supply chains creates problems for law-enforcement agencies. Preventing this activity is one of a number of recommendations made by the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB).

Such diversions often indicate loopholes in national drug control legislation or insufficient monitoring of compliance with existing legislation or regulations​”, says a report by the INCB, an independent body overseeing implementation of United Nations drug control conventions.

Governments facing these issues should identify the source of diverted products and take measures, such as increasing monitoring or revising legislation, to prevent reoccurrence.

Pharmaceutical preparations containing a substance used in substation treatment, such as morphine and methadone, are one part of the problem. In these cases control measures must be assessed and, if necessary, modified to prevent diversion while ensuring medical availability.

National measures

Ephedrine or pseudoephedrine-containing formulations are another area of concern. In 2009 China, the Czech Republic, El Salvador and South Africa all enacted national legislation to extend ephedrine or pseudoephedrine-focused control measures.

National measures are needed, says the report, because domestic distribution is now a major source of diverted substances. In contrast, diversion during international trade has almost stopped.

Most diversions of precursors take place because of the ability of criminal groups to exploit gaps in national regulatory frameworks for monitoring trade in precursors and identifying suspicious transactions​”, says the INCB.

All governments must act to control pharmaceutical formulations containing ephedrine or pseudoephedrine, says the INCB, in the same manner they restrict supply of the raw ingredients. Tighter controls on acetic anhydride, used in aspirin production, should also be considered.

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