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JUSTICE AND HOME AFFAIRS: COUNCIL MOVES TO HALT ABUSE OF MEDICAL DRUGS.

It was under the Portuguese EU Presidency, on 17 April 2000, that Council requested a risk assessment of these two drugs, as is provided for by a 1997 Joint Action (97/396/JHA). This allows Council to unanimously adopt, on the basis of the assessment, a Decision to define new synthetic drugs and subject them to controls. The European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) carried out the assessment, submitting its final reports to the Council and European Commission in October 2000. The Council's Horizontal Working Party on Drugs examined both the reports and the Commission's opinion of them. On 16 February, it forwarded its draft conclusions to the Committee of Member States' Permanent Representatives to the EU (COREPER) for adoption.The draft Conclusions on GHB recommend monitoring the substance throughout 2001. It calls on EMCDDA and EU police agency Europol to gather information on its clinical effects (deaths, overdoses and hospitalisation) and consumption habits (powder, liquid form, etc.). They will look at the role of organised crime in producing and diverting the drug, and how the Internet is used to sell it for non-medical purposes. Member States would notify EMCDDA of existing laws on the therapeutic use of GHB. Meanwhile, the Commission would encourage the chemical and pharmaceutical industries to introduce their own control measures. EMCDDA and Europol would report back to Council by the end of 2001.The draft proposes similar measures for Ketamin, although less stringent actions. While its use would be monitored and industry asked to tighten controls, the medical and veterinary importance of the drug is also recognised. Council would welcome any proposals for further studies on Ketamine, which could be done under the EU Fifth Framework Programme for Research and Development.--Ketamine is traditionally used as a veterinary anaesthetic, mainly on small animals. Recreationally, it is injected as a liquid or inhaled in powder form and goes by the street names of 'K', 'KitKat', 'cat valium', 'vitamin K', 'super K' and, when mixed with cocaine, 'CK Special'. Ketamine is sometimes sold under the guise of ecstasy.Legitimate uses of GHB (gammahydroxybutyric acid), also an anaesthetic, include the treatment of alcohol withdrawal and burns. However, misuse of the drug poses significant health risks, due to the narrow margin between a recreational dose (desired effects) and one leading to unconsciousness or irreversible coma (detrimental effects). The drug is administered orally and, once dissolved, difficult to detect, being colourless, odourless and relatively without taste. On the street, GHB has various labels including 'liquid ecstasy', 'easy lay', 'scoop' and 'fantasy'. The EMCDDA risk-assessment report on GHB expresses concerns about its possible links to sexual assaults or 'date rape'.For more information on new synthetic drugs, visit the EMCDDA web site: http://www.emcdda.org--

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Publication:European Report
Date:Feb 24, 2001
Words:458
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