PNP lab report out
The place, Barangay Kamagayan, arguably a drug haven also known as Cebu’s red light district.
The incident, a box with hundreds of vials of a chemical substance, literally landing at the feet of village watchmen, dropped by a young unidentified man who then sped on foot leaving the package behind.
The ampules, which were initially believed by barangay tanods to be the injectable drug Nubain, was officially declared yesterday as just the anti-ulcer medication, Ranitidine Hydrochloride, based on a test conducted by the Police Regional Crime Laboratory Office.
“Qualitative examination conducted on Specimen A gave negative results to the presence of dangerous drugs. Specimen does not contain dangerous drugs,” said Senior Insp. Mary Garcia, forensic chemist of the Regional Crime Laboratory Office in its report.
But the findings raised the question on whether street level drug dealers were now scrambling for all sorts of injectable drugs to pass them off as a cheaper alternative for the skyrocketing prices of shabu to gullible drug users.
The incident also raised the question on why the drugs were left at the vans-for-hire station in Barangay Kamagayan in front of barangay tanods before the man skedaddled out of their sight.
Senior Insp. Dexter Basirgo, chief of the Parian Police Station where the drugs were turned over by the tanods, believed that the 799 vials of Ranitidine were left after the person found out that they were not Nubain.
“Duda nako nga kinawat na, nagtuo nga Nubain. Apan sa dihang walay epekto, gibiyaan na lang (I believe the ampules were stolen by someone who thought they contained Nubain. But when the person realized that it didn’t have any effect, he decided to abandon it),” he told Cebu Daily News.
Basirgo said police and tanods are still trying to track the whereabouts of the unidentified man who left the ampules of Ranitidine at the GT Express Terminal in Kamagayan, Sunday.
“Of course, we could not discount the possibility that someone entitled to hold this substance left it,” the police station chief said.
In case a medical representative or another person left it, Basirgo said they could claim the ampules at the Parian Police Station.
If no one will claim them, Basirgo said he will turn the drugs over to the Philippine National Police hospital located at the Cebu City Police Office compound along Gorordo Street, Cebu City.
Ranitidine, which reduces gastric acid secretion, is used to treat ulcers and gastroenteritis.
It is not a prohibited drug.
“It has never been among those drugs prohibited under Republic Act 9165 (Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002),” said Nezen Tomabini, regulatory compliance officer of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency in Central Visayas (PDEA-7).
In the heels of the incident, government authorities further beefed up their monitoring of the distribution of Nubain amid police intelligence reports that the high prices of shabu have brought up the demand for the cheaper alternatives.
Nubain, a powerful injectable painkiller earlier sold in drug stores, was reclassified by the Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB) as a regulated drug in 2011 following its rampant abuse by illegal drug users.
Cebu City Ordinance 1427 also prohibits the sale of Nubain without the proper prescription from licensed physicians accredited by the DDB.
The abuse of Nubain has reportedly expanded to other areas of Cebu following decades of the prohibited drug being peddled almost exclusively in Kamagayan.
PDEA-7 information officer, Rose Alviar, said their monitoring covers the issuance of Nubain prescription and its distribution by pharmacies.
“That’s a regulated drug and doctors who issue prescriptions without a license can be charged,” she said in Cebuano, adding that unauthorized doctors stand to lose their medical licenses aside from facing criminal charges.
PDEA has a compliance service section that issues licenses to doctors authorized to prescribe regulated drugs like Nubain and to companies importing dangerous drugs, she added.
Licensed doctors issue a yellow prescription to patients who are advised to take the regulated pain killer.
Over at the Cebu City Office for Substance Abuse Prevention (Cosap), Dr. Alice Utlang said some drug users have shifted to Nubain with the scarcity of the supply of shabu in Cebu.
In an interview with radio DYAB, Utlang said that reports reaching Cosap claimed that because of the increasing demand for Nubain, some supplies are now being smuggled in from Pakistan.
Utlang said that she has forwarded the information to PDEA for its verification.
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