10 nurses booked for phentermine purchases

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10 nurses booked for phentermine purchases

Ten nurses and nurse assistants in Gangnam District in southern Seoul were booked on charges of illegally purchasing and using phentermine, a drug used medically as an appetite suppressant, police said Sunday.

The suspects, all former or current workers in the plastic surgery department at two Gangnam hospitals, allegedly bought 30 to 150 phentermine pills from a 27-year-old pharmaceutical salesman, whom they met through business. The salesman has also been booked for illegal sales.

Designed for short-term use, phentermine is a medically prescribed diet pill intended for obese patients. It is chemically similar to amphetamines, also known as speed. The suspects admitted to the charges and said they wanted to lose weight. One nurse allegedly consumed over 150 pills during the past year.

The substance costs between 20,000 and 40,000 won ($17.87 - $35.73) per box, with each box containing 30 pills.

Presuming that the nurses may have shared the drug or sold it to nurses from other hospitals in the Gangnam area, police said they would widen their investigation. Pointing out that the salesman managed around 10 different hospitals in Gangnam, including the two recently busted, authorities said they were considering raiding his pharmaceutical company to check whether the illegal sales were ordered top-down.

BY YOON JUNG-MIN [lee.sungeun@joongang.co.kr]
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