CEBU CITY, Philippines ? Amid the drop in the sale of shabu in some parts of Cebu City, the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency in Central Visayas (PDEA-7) called for the reclassification of the drug Nubain as an illegal drug.
PDEA-7 Regional Director Randy Pedroso called on the Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB) to reclassify the drug amid the rising incidence of Nubain use in Cebu City.
Nubain, also known as nalbuphine hydrochloride, is a prescription opium-like drug with effects similar to morphine with known sedative effects on users.
Pedroso said only a city ordinance classified Nubain as an illegal drug.
The Cebu City ordinance, the only one in the country, imposes a jail term of up to six months and a fine of at least P5,000 for those caught using Nubain without prescription.
Pedroso said people can buy Nubain at P200 per ampule, but a P10 purchase is good for one injection.
He said he received reports that the villages of Kinasang-an and Kamagayan are just two of the major hotspots for the sale of Nubain in Cebu City.
Earlier, DDB Undersecretary Paul Clarence Oaminal said the reclassification of Nubain as a dangerous drug was made in 2006, when the board held a public hearing in Cebu City.
However, Oaminal said due to pressures from pharmaceutical companies, Nubain remained a prescription drug.
Currently, PDEA has the power to monitor and regulate nalbuphine orders of pharmacies and hospitals but could not prosecute its abusers as the drug is not covered by the 2002 anti-drug law.
The regional PDEA-7 office also cited reports that Nubain users in Luzon and Mindanao, particularly those in the cities of General Santos and Zamboanga, were also scoring their fix from Cebu City.
There have also been reports of death due to Nubain overdose.
Last month, a man about to board a Bohol-bound ferry was accosted at the Cebu City pier carrying 91 ampules of the regulated drug.
Regil Diola, 27, told police that he purchased the Nubain ampules from a female supplier in Cebu.
The DDB meanwhile created this week an interagency anti-drug task force for the Cebu area, with the PDEA Region 7 office at the lead.
"With this inter-agency task force, law enforcement will become more efficient due to new strategies that will be applied and introduced," DDB chair Vicente Sotto III said in a statement.
The task force would focus on quashing 12 drug syndicates known to be operating in the area, the DDB said. /With a report from Inquirer