Introduce stricter drug regulations to prevent abuse

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Introduce stricter drug regulations to prevent abuse

Last month, some female celebrities were arrested for injecting “propofol,” a k a the “milk of amnesia,” which has become widely known since its involvement in Michael Jackson’s death. Despite its high price - about $100 per injection - an increasing number of people are abusing it for intoxication effect.

Sadly, however, female celebrities in Korea are not the only abusers of propofol. A local obstetrician’s girlfriend died because of abuse, not to mention nearly 100 doctors who have been caught for misusing narcotics, including propofol in particular. That means that even ordinary citizens can have an easy access to the drug. A doctor who had to close his clinic several times for offering propofol to his otherwise healthy patients was recently caught once again.

Due to the serious abuse of the anesthetic, the Ministry of Health and Welfare announced schemes to tighten drug control and categorized propofol as a psychotropic drug, but the regulation is not strong enough. One of stricter regulations can be Drug Utilization Review (DUR), a system the government adopted to avert the misuse of inappropriate drugs. But propofol has not yet been included in the category due to opposition from some doctors, including dermatologists, who claim that it can limit patients’ rights to use high-quality medical substances and endanger patients’ privacy during the censoring process of prescription.

But Korea should consider the DUR system in a positive way and try to set up plans to prevent potential problems before it is introduced - for instance, we can think of practical ways to strengthen privacy security regulation during prescription censoring so the concerns can be reduced.

Until now, Koreans have been somewhat indifferent about drug problems because of their relatively less serious situation, but the situation is changing. Especially, the latest propofol abuse has alerted us to take action. If the relevant institutions stay calm, the number of people who spend their money on the harmful drug will continue to rise.

*Song Seungmin, Student at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies

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