Illicit Prescription Drug Online Health Warning
‘Prescription’ sedatives sold online often pose serious health risks, according to a report by Public Health Wales (PHW).
More than half of the samples collected, 57.3%, of the sedative Diazepam sold online contained no trace of it, the Annual report for 2020-21 States.
Experts, including Josie Smith, head of substance abuse for PHW, warn that these drugs can have serious health consequences.
“Public health concerns remain as these products are not pharmaceutical grade and, despite their appearance, they are counterfeit.
“Counterfeit products, as evidenced by WEDINOS (Welsh Emerging Drugs and Identification of Novel Substances) may contain different substances and dose ranges.
“This means that people who consume these products are unaware of the dose, time of onset of effects, duration of effects, or contraindications with other substances or medications.”
She added that as a result, they would be at higher risk of potential health and other harms.
“We urge anyone in need of this medication to always speak to and obtain supplies from a healthcare professional, with a prescription.”
Following the easing of coronavirus restrictions, WEDINOS has seen sample submissions increase by 92.6% over the past 12 months, while ccommunity submissions increased by nearly 60 percent.
WEDINOS also recorded a 14.6% increase in the number of substances identified.
This year 2021/22 saw 7,457 samples received, an increase of 92.6% compared to 2020/21.
According to this year’s report, the number of hospital admissions for poisonings with named illicit drugs decreased by 11.8% over the past year, from 6,295 in 2019-2020 to 5,554 in 2020-21.
In 2020, 224 drug poisoning deaths were recorded in Wales, down 6.7% from the previous calendar year. Of all drug poisoning deaths, 149 (66.5%) were identified as drug abuse deaths, a decrease of 9.7% from 165 deaths in 2019.5.
The chemical group of psychoactive substances most often identified and submitted for the fourth consecutive year was that of benzodiazepines.
As with the results for the previous three years, diazepam topped the list, with etizolam the second most commonly identified substance, with 358 identifications, although it was only reported 46 times as an intention to ‘purchase.
Etizolam is commonly used as a substitute for diazepam, but also in samples submitted as alprazolam.
Etizolam is more potent than diazepam. This is a potential risk for people using benzodiazepines, as dosage and potency vary widely.
In a throwback to pre-Covid-19 restriction trends, cocaine was the most common psychoactive substance identified by WEDINOS.
This is likely due to the reopening of night economy venues and the increased receipt of samples from amnesty bins in such venues.
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