Representational Image

A painkiller called Tramadol is allegedly being used as a pill to get “high” on, a doctor at Belau National Hospital claimed.

However, the doctor said that the painkiller like Tramadol is strictly prescribed in the cases of deadly diseases such as cancer and the Government of Palau has stopped the sale of Tramadol at the hospital.

The doctor further added that people often use Tramadol with a substance to multiply the effects of the medicine which can produce a certain “high” but is harmful to the body at the same.

Comparing it morphine, the doctor said that it has similar effects of morphine but not addictive when consumed just as a pill.

A World Health Organization report reads, “Human studies show that tramadol has a low abuse potential relative to the prototypic opioid morphine.”

It further states that, in recreational drug users, 100 mg oral tramadol was found to induce effects of ‘drug liking’ and ‘want to take again’. The drug ratings were comparable to those of 25 mg morphine but lagged behind those of morphine in some subjects. These data indicate that tramadol has abuse liability in recreational drug users, too.

It also adds that in a study that was conducted in Iran where the association of tramadol use and use of other psychoactive substances was investigated in high school students in Ilam city of Iran. Life-time prevalence of tramadol misuse was 4.7% and lifetime tramadol misuse was associated with last month alcohol use, cannabis use, and ecstasy use.

The Director of Bureau of Clinical Services Dr. Ngirachisaol Mekoll said that Belau National Hospital only keeps medicines that are in the ‘List of Essential Medicine’ of WHO. Tramadol is not one of them.

He also claimed that even if a doctor of Belau National Hospital writes a prescription for Tramadol to a patient, a private pharmacist cannot provide it. He added, only on the prescription of a private medical professional, Tramadol can be acquired from a non-governmental pharmacy.

However, a pharmacy located in Koror suggested that Tramadol is only given on prescription of either private or Belau National Hospital doctor. An employee of the pharmacy also told the Island Times that approximately 10 people buy Tramadol every month on prescription from their pharmacy and suspected that most of them misused it. Although, the employee added that there are customers with serious illness like cancer who are provided with Tramadol on prescription at their store as well.

The Bureau of Public Safety Director through the Chief of Staff of the Vice President conveyed that he has heard the misuse of the pill but there have been no cases of it at the BPS. (By Eshan Kalyanikar)