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May 17, 2006 - Sydney Morning Herald (AUS)

Violence Rises Due To Drug Controls

By Ruth Pollard, Health Reporter

Return to Drug War News: Don't Miss Archive

UNTIL restrictions on the sale of pseudoephedrine took effect in January, up to 50 per cent of the drug sold or stolen from pharmacies went into the illicit manufacture of metham-phetamines, a parliamentary inquiry has heard.

However, while the controls have reduced the number of "pseudo runners" going from pharmacy to pharmacy to obtain drugs containing pseudoephedrine, they had also led to an increase in the use of violence to obtain the drug, senior NSW police told the inquiry.

Continuing the crackdown on methamphetamine, or speed, police called on the Federal Government to regulate the importation of pill presses.

"At the moment somebody can order a pill press, bring it into the country and sell it in the Trading Post or on eBay to individuals who have no legitimate reason to use it," Detective Inspector Paul Willingham told the inquiry.

The Therapeutic Goods Administration could issue licences for pill presses and it could be made an offence to possess such equipment without a licence, he said.

Researchers told the parliamentary inquiry there were 73,000 dependent methamphetamine users in Australia - almost double the number addicted to heroin.

The director the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, Richard Mattick, said it was a mistake to think that medicinal therapies, such as methadone to treat heroin, were the only way to beat drug dependency.

Governments should also be investing in treatments such as cognitive behavioural therapy and other psychological interventions, he said.

"We have been quite poor in Australia in responding in an accurate way [to drug use] and this is driven by politics," Professor Mattick told the inquiry.

Chris Arblaster, the marketing and development director of the Australian Self Medication Industry, said the repackaging and rescheduling of pseudoephedrine products had had a marked impact on the diversion of those drugs into the illicit trade.

Before that "anything up to 50 per cent of the market was open to abuse", he said.

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