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April 26 2019

Customs drives depressed

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Customs drives depressed

Ordering medicine abroad was regarded as drug smuggling.

The Ural Customs suspect Yekaterinburg resident Darya Belyayeva, who ordered a pack of antidepressant "Elontril" from Poland, in drug smuggling. The customs expert came to the conclusion that the substance bupropion contained in the Polish medicine is a “derivative” of the illicit drug ephedrine. A girl who takes anti-depressants for the treatment of a psychiatric illness faces up to 20 years in prison. The psychiatrists interviewed by “Kommersant” said that this case is widely discussed in the professional environment, since anti-depressants with bupropion “take in Russia thousands of completely law-abiding patients, including children”. Lawyers also do not see a crime in buying medicine and note that "the uncertainty of the Russian anti-drug legislation allows fabricating criminal cases from scratch."
As Ms. Belyaeva’s lawyer, Irina Rozhkova, told Kommersant, a 24-year-old girl was diagnosed with schizotypal personality disorder. “The psychiatrist prescribed antidepressants for her, and then told her about the drug bupropion, a very good medicine that is not for sale in Russia, so patients order it from abroad,” said Ms Rozhkova. At the end of March, the girl ordered a package of Elontril tablets containing bupropion from Poland. 8 April she came to take the drug to the post office in Yekaterinburg. There, she was met by customs officers who reported that there were questions to the pills and they needed to be checked.
A specialist in customs forensic services admitted that bupropion is not on any list of narcotic drugs.
However, he suggested that it “can be considered as a product of the formal replacement of a hydrogen atom by a chlorine atom” in the formula of ephedrine, a narcotic substance prohibited in the Russian Federation. According to Irina Rozhkova, the deputy head of Koltsovo customs opened a criminal case on two counts: the illegal purchase of drugs (part 2 Art. 228 of the RF Criminal Code) and drug smuggling (part 3 Art. 229.1 of the Criminal Code), both on a large scale. “Daria was questioned as a suspect, but she hasn’t been charged yet,” the lawyer said.
This case is now being actively discussed in the medical community, psychiatrist Elisha Osin told “Kommersant”. “Thousands of Russians take antidepressants with bupropion, they are also ordered from abroad in the same way,” the doctor explained. “This criminal case threatens a large number of law-abiding families who buy it for children with ADHD. I myself know dozens of such patients. ” According to him, bupropion does not give an intoxicating effect, “it is useless to take it or sell it as a recreational drug, it is a medicine, an antidepressant.”
Ivan Martynikhin, a member of the executive committee of the Russian Society of Psychiatrists, told “Kommersant” that bupropion has almost no analogues, “for example, it is very important for patients with bipolar depression — other drugs cause side effects up to suicidal risk, but this one does not.”
Before 2016, bupropion was on the Russian drug list, but then the manufacturing company left the Russian market and revoked the license.
Since then, it is not sold in official pharmacies, and psychiatrists have no right to officially appoint it. “But I can tell patients about its existence and, at their request, advise on how to take it,” the psychiatrist Osin said.
Patients purchase it through websites with dietary supplements or order directly from manufacturers in different countries. Foreign pharmaceutical companies produce bupropion tablets under various names: “Zyban”, “Elontril”, “Wellbutrin”. “I have many patients taking these drugs. If bupropion is banned, there will be nothing to replace, says psychiatrist Martynikhin. I am not ready to comment on a particular case, but it is obvious to me that this drug has not been subject to any restrictions for years. And the fact that a person with a psychiatric disorder is trying to recognize a drug smuggler is a blatant situation. ”
“This whole situation is a very vivid example of the problems that exist in Russian anti-drug legislation,” said Arseny Levinson, an expert at the Institute of Human Rights, legal adviser on drug policy. The law has the concept of “drug derivatives” - these are substances that may be a new drug, created by changing the chemical formula of the old. These "derivatives" are not included in the list of prohibited substances, but they will also be considered a drug. The problem is that the list of these "derivatives" does not exist, says Mr. Levinson. Moreover, it all depends on the expertise: there are examples when two different experts, having studied one substance, come to opposite conclusions. “It turns out that an ordinary person without a higher chemical education cannot know in any way whether he bought harmless pills or“ derivatives of narcotic substances, ”the lawyer says.“ The legislation unleashes the police to fabricate criminal cases from scratch. ”
Alexander Chernykh

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