UN report warns of dangers of unregulated sales of both controlled and counterfeit drugs
Unregulated sales – in places such as street markets and the Internet – of both internationally controlled and counterfeit drugs endanger the lives of people worldwide, according to a United Nations-backed annual report of an independent drug control body released today.
“It is important for consumers to realize that what they think is a cut-price medication bought on an unregulated market may have potentially lethal effects whenever the consumed drugs are not the genuine product or are taken without medical advice,” said Dr. Philip O. Emafo, President of the Vienna-based International Narcotics Control Board (INCB).
“Instead of healing, [these drugs] can take lives,” he added.
The 2006 INCB report warns that unofficial drug sales, due to a lack of standards, result in substandard and even lethal medications going to unsuspecting customers. The drugs sold on the black market are often stolen from legitimate health-care centres or retailers, illicitly manufactured or sold illegally on the Internet.
To combat this problem, the Board urges States Parties to at least one of the three main drug control treaties – the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs (as amended by the 1972 Protocol), the 1971 Convention on Psychotropic Substances and the 1988 Convention Against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances – to strengthen their law enforcement mechanisms, as well as implement effective policies to combat the production and sale of counterfeit drugs.
The INCB urges UN agencies, such as the World Health Organization (WHO) and the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNDOC), to assist Member States with better understanding the ramifications of illicit drug sales on the unregulated market as well as preventing the trafficking of these drugs.
The report also highlights developments in specific regions of the world. For example, the Board points out that the cultivation and production of cannabis and the trafficking of cocaine is on the rise in Africa, suggesting that African countries continue efforts to enhance their respective drug control policies.
Although an independent body, the Board was established by the UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs of 1961, the 1971 Convention on Psychotropic Substances and the 1988 Convention against the Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances.
The Board's 13 members may be nominated by their countries, but serve in their personal or expert capacities, providing information to the general public and experts around the world on matters of drug control, both from the standpoint of illegal drugs and also the standpoint of ensuring the availability of drugs that are controlled, but also legal and medically useful.