published: 17.08.2012, 17:54 | updated: 17.08.2012 18:18:04
Prague - Czech drug-addicts still abuse fentanyl, a substance with effects similar to heroin, which allegedly gets to the country also from German hospices where it is administered in palliative care, National Anti-drug Centre (NPC) spokeswoman Barbora Kudlackova has told CTK.
Fentanyl is an addictive opiate that is about 40 times stronger than heroin, and consequently its users face a higher risk of overdose, according to doctors.
In health care, it is used to relieve pain in the form of adhesive plasters, but also as drops and spray.
In the past, fentanyl was spread mainly in north Moravia, being smuggled from the neighbouring Slovakia and from the Baltic countries. In Ostrava, north Moravia, fentanyl has often replaced heroin that was delivered by Albanians.
However, fentanyl plasters recently appeared in western Bohemia as well, Kudlackova noted.
Fentanyl-based medicines are subject to a strict control and they are available only on a special medical prescription with a blue stripe.
"In spite of it, fentanyl, particularly in plasters, leaks to the black market by relatives of seriously ill (oncological) patients. A plaster is sold for 3000 crowns and it can be used for about nine doses," Kudlackova said.
Moreover, fentanyl is probably delivered to drug-addicts by some employees of hospices in Germany, she added.
The NPC pointed to the spreading of fentanyl as a substitute drug for heroin users in the Czech Republic last year when Slovak police seized over four kilos of this drug worth almost six million crowns.
In connection with this case, Czech policemen detained another five people who were importing and selling the substance in Ostrava.
Fentanyl is very dangerous since even its small amount can cause overdose, national drug coordinator Jindrich Voboril said.
Moreover, fentanyl cannot be detected by standard toxicological tests.
The Czech Drug Monitoring Centre reported previously that fentanyl had appeared on the European drug scene after 2004 only but rare reports on its sale in the United States had emerged at the end of the 1970s already.
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