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03 Jul 2020, Edition - 1816, Friday

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Coimbatore

Students get high on “poor man’s heroin”; steal vials from hospitals

Covai Post Network

EXCLUSIVE: CCTV footage cracks the mystery of missing drugs from ICU of hospitals. An intravenous drug, Fortwin, that gives high to the users, is used to reduce pain of patients after surgeries. Cases of Fortwin theft are rising in the city even as police bust a ten member gang involved in stealing the drugs from ICUs of different hospitals.

The young professionals and students in Coimbatore are getting high on ‘poor man’s heroin’ – Fortwin, an intravenous drug – that is going missing from hospitals in the city and its outskirts.

Doctors and nursing staff of city hospitals and those in and around Mettupalayam were baffled over the missing vials of Fortwin from the ICUs. The drug, administered in the form of an injection soon after a surgery to reduce pain, was missing in significant quantities.

A doctor in a hospital told Covai Post on condition of anonymity that “they usually ask for a friend admitted to ICU and walk in, while another stands guard.” According to local police official handling reported cases of theft, the students came in batches of two. While one stands guard the other would steal the ampules.

Recently, two students came parked their vehicle a little distance away from the hospital. And one of the students was moving around the ICU in a suspicious manner, the nurses alerted the doctor and hospital staff nabbed the duo and handed them to police.

The CCTV footage revealed moving pictures of students, sneaking into private and government hospitals during the little hours or during lunch time and flicking the vials of the drug stored in the ICU. Though the ampules of the drug are cheap, priced at Rs 6 apiece, since the drug is not available over the counter, the students in habit of doing drugs attack the source of drugs, said the doctor.

Police sources confirmed to Covai Post that a ten member gang, comprising mostly students, was engaged in stealing the Fortwin drug from the hospitals in and around Mettupalayam. This drug is not available across the counter. They come looking for it as it gives them the high and is aptly called the “poor man’s heroine”. The ampules cost as little as Rs 6, but it is sold in black for as much as Rs 750 per injection, police sources said.

The students also procure this drug from medical representatives at a substantially high price.

This theft is not just confined to hospitals in the outskirts, Coimbatore city also has its fair share of cases.

Gem Hospital has handed over two students to the police after they tried to steal the drug, said Medical Superintendent, Dr P Sivaprakasam.

“Fortwin, Fentanyl and Pethidine come under Schedule H of Narcotic drugs and any hospital procuring these drugs must primarily procure license from DC Excise. These addiction inducing drugs could increase BP, cause hallucinations, seizures, sleeping trouble and an exaggerated sense of well-being and in case of over dose it could also prove fatal,” he said.

It is very important for the hospital to ensure that the Narcotics policy is strictly in place to avoid misuse of these kind of drugs.

They should be kept securely locked up. As a precautionary measure, whenever the drug is taken out for use, it has to be authorized and signed by two persons – by the doctor concerned and another hospital official. “Just like the soldiers and policemen have to keep a count of bullets they use, the doctors should produce the old vials to get new ones,” Dr Sivaprakasam said.

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