Vietnam halts imports of pseudoephedrine hydrochloride

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Vietnam's health ministry has banned the import of Pseudoephedrine hydrochloride which is used to produce popular flu and allergy remedies because drug dealers have been using it to make the illegal methamphetamine.

The decision was made after the ministry found a dramatic increase in the imports of Pseudoephedrine hydrochloride into Vietnam by a number of pharmaceutical companies between late 2010 and August 2011.

The ministry said it will establish an inspection team to inspect companies involved in the production, sale and distribution of drugs using Pseudoephedrine hydrochloride as an active ingredient.

The DAV has been asked to conduct a survey on the practical use of the drug at medical clinics nationwide in order to control the import of Pseudoephedrine hydrochloride.

Deputy Minister of Health Cao Minh Quang said the ministry will work with the Ministry of Public Security and the Ministry of Industry and Trade to detect the illicit purchase and manufacture of methamphetamine.

Pseudoephedrine is used as a nasal/sinus decongestant and stimulant, or as a wakefulness-promoting agent. 

The salt pseudoephedrine hydrochloride is found in many over-the-counter preparations either as a single ingredient or, more commonly, in combination with other drugs.

The similarity in chemical structure to amphetamine (a psychostimulant drug) has made pseudoephedrine a sought-after chemical precursor in the illicit manufacture of methamphetamine (commonly referred to as "crystal meth", "meth" or "ice") and methcathinone.

On July 14, Vietnamese narcotics police raided a house in the northern province of Thanh Hoa, where a local couple produce methamphetamine from Tiffy tablets, known to treat coughs and colds.

The police seized more than 90 kilograms of loose Tiffy tablets, nine whole packages and other equipment used for the manufacture of methamphetamine.

Last year, Ho Chi Minh City police arrested two Vietnamese Australian men who bought around 20,000 packs of Actifed Cold and Allergy in Vietnam in 2007, and later ground the tablets into powder and sent the drugs to Australia.

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