Black Market Drugs Trade Must End- SDLP

An SDLP MLA has called for an increased effort to close down the illegal sale of counterfeit Xanax on the black market in Northern Ireland.

Dolores Kelly's comments follow a statement from the coroner for Northern Ireland that the rising number of deaths linked to fake versions of the anti-anxiety drug Xanax is "an escalating crisis".

The powerful tranquilliser is not available on the NHS, but is used widely to treat anxiety and panic attacks.

Joe McCrisken said he is signing off a death related to the substance nearly once a week, most of which are occurring due to counterfeit versions.
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Mrs Kelly, the SDLP's Policing and Justice Spokesperson said: "The abuse of prescription drugs is an area that must be tackled, but none more so than counterfeit products, such as fake Xanax, shipped in from far and wide, to be purchased for as little as £1 per tablet. It is extremely worrying to learn of children as young as 11 being treated in hospital after consuming counterfeit Xanax tablets purchased on the black market."

The Upper Bann MLA has arranged to meet the Assistant Chief Constables in March to raise the issue of the worrying development, and seek an update on the actions being taken to stop this practice and prevent such drugs from making their way onto the streets.

"It is imperative that those dealing the drug within our communities are brought to justice," she added.

SDLP Councillor and PSCP member Paul McCusker commented: "I have seen too many young lives lost as a result of the black market trading of these counterfeit Xanax. These products have become so easily available that children as young as 11 are able to get their hands on them.

"The abuse of any drug is frightening, but the consumption of a product that has travelled from as far as the Middle East and ended up on our streets in Belfast, with no trace or knowledge of the chemicals inside the drug, is something that all statutory agencies must actively work to put an end to."


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