Goa acts tough on drug lobby for Ketamine abuse

Illegal supply coming from Hubli factory, complains Goa to Ktaka

A big drug lobby was involved in the underground ketamine trade in Goa, Health Minister Vishwajit Rane said, vowing to take them head on. “I have received several complaints about the serious abuse of ketamine, which has become a replacement for the more-difficult-to-get ‘ecstacy’. We will not tolerate this...,” Rane said.

Five pharmacies on the Calangute coast have been shut down and their licences temporarily suspended for selling the Schedule H drug illegally over the counter. A foreigner recently died of a ketamine overdose in the Goa Medical College, Rane said.

He said the government was writing to manufacturers and wholesalers to comply with the regulations or face action. The FDA has been directed to seize all illegal stocks and book the pharmacies selling the drug without valid medical prescriptions.

Action sought
The government has also written to the drugs controller, Karnataka, to take action against a Hubli factory suspected to be the source of the illegal ketamine stocks supplied to  Lifecare Medicentre, Calangute.

“We’ve asked them to inspect the Hubli factory, so we can nail the source,” Rane said. Lifecare owner Norman Azavedo, who has been under FDA surveillance for five years, faces four cases under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act.

In May this year, the Italian police had swooped on a drug network and arrested 26 people for trafficking in 360 litres of ketamine and hashish from India to Bologna. The Ketamine, transported in shampoo bottles, is believed to have left from Goa. Among the arrested was David Ardino, 39, who was domiciled in Goa.

The FDA also unearthed a huge illegal consignment of valium (diazepam, used to treat anxiety disorders) routed through a Bombay-based supplier.

The Customs and Central Excise Department was working on the case, the government said, adding that cough syrup Codeine was also on the drug abuse list in Goa.

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