Warning over sale of prescription drugs


The illicit sale of prescription drugs in Dublin's city-centre has become a "far more significant problem" than the sale of heroin, cocaine, ecstasy or cannabis combined, the Lord Mayor of Dublin has warned.

Andrew Montague, who was speaking at an event to publicise a new Crimestoppers confidential phone-line to stop drug-dealing, said there had been about 1,500 drug arrests in the city centre between September and December last year.

"Only about 60 of these were for selling control drugs. The rest were for selling so-called legal drugs, prescription drugs.

"The problem is that the gardaí can't prosecute someone for possessing these drugs. So work is going on with the Irish Medicines Board and the Department of Health with a view to strengthening Garda powers, to enable them to prosecute."

Prescription drugs were being sold, particularly around Abbey Street and streets adjacent to O'Connell Street, and were mainly from the valium family, he said, including benzodiazepine, tetrazepam and diazepam.

Garda Commissioner, Martin Callinan, confirmed the sale of "medicines that are legitimate" was a "continuing difficulty" for the force.

"We are working with the Irish Medicines Board to find ways and means to combat this particular trait. We are very conscious of course that people who are using drugs will try and get their hands on any drugs they can, including prescription drugs."

Asked where dealers were getting the pharmaceutical drugs, Mr Montague said many were available over-the-counter in continental Europe and were being brought back, and, that people were stealing them from legitimate users.

At the same event Minister of State for Health, Róisín Shortall, reiterated her determination to end alcohol sponsorship of sport though stopped short of stating it would definitely end.

"I'm very committed to phasing that out. We're going to try and phase that out over a reasonable period of time. There's nervousness obviously. What we want to do is encourage sporting organisations to find alternative sources of sponsorship. For example it would make eminent sense for health insurance companies to be sponsoring sport."

Asked if she was confident alcohol sponsorship of sport would end, she said: "I am confident we can work together to make it happen over a period of time."

The Crimestoppers line to stop drug-dealing is a free-phone number, manned by gardaí and is completely confidential. It is 1800 25 00 25.