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THE Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB) has upgraded ketamine, a tranquilizer most commonly used on animals, from a "controlled" substance to a "dangerous" drug, following reports that the potent pain-killer has become popular among Filipino teens and young adults.
The US Drug Enforcement Administration considers ketamine a date-rape drug. The effects of the powerful anesthetic include delirium, amnesia and long-term memory and cognitive difficulties.
Ketamine, also known as jet, super acid, Special "K", green, K, and cat Valium, comes in a clear liquid and a white or off-white powder form.
The liquid form, sold in vials, can be injected, consumed in drinks, or added to smokable materials. The powder form can be used for injection when dissolved. High doses of ketamine produce an effect likened to a "near-comatose" or "out-of-body" experience.
The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency recently discovered that some clandestine shabu laboratories in the country have been blending ketamine with shabu to produce an even more noxious designer narcotic with the combined effect of a hallucinogenic sedative and a vicious stimulant.
In May, the police seized 6.8 kilos of ketamine worth P34 million from a busted shabu laboratory in Quezon City. The facility had been producing shabu laced with ketamine for local distribution and for export to Hong Kong, where ketamine is also widely abused.
As a dangerous drug, the importation, distribution, sale and prescription of ketamine would now be rigorously restricted and supervised by the DDB. He said only specially licensed practitioners may prescribe the drug in monitored and controlled doses.
Marketed as a tranquilizer for human and veterinary use, the only known black market source of ketamine is via the illicit diversion of supplies from manufacturers, distributors, pharmacies and even veterinary clinics. Each dosage unit of ketamine sells for as low as P1,000 to as high as P5,000 in the black market.
The DDB said "any material, compound, mixture or preparation which contains any quantity of ketamine, including its salts, isomers, and salts of isomers within the specific chemical designation, by whatever official, common or unusual brand name or designation, is hereby classified as a dangerous drug."
"Any violation of this regulation shall be ground for filing the appropriate criminal case against the violator, without prejudice to such administrative sanctions as may be provided under the law and board rules," the DDB added.