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Drug use history should be checked for medical narcotics prescriptions

Drug use history should be checked for medical narcotics prescriptions

Posted April. 19, 2023 08:03,   

Updated April. 19, 2023 08:03


The South Korean government announced Tuesday that it would implement a comprehensive plan to tackle drug issues in response to the increasing problem of drug abuse, including offering drug-laced drinks to high-school students in the Gangnam area and the recent case of actor Yoo Ah-in’s drug use. Under the new plan, doctors should check patients’ past drug use history when prescribing medical narcotics. The plan also includes expanding drug investigations through a special unit composed of prosecutors, police, and customs service.

During the announcement, Bang Moon-gyu, the minister of the Office for Government Policy Coordination, shared the progress and the future plan for the comprehensive management of narcotics at the Government Complex Seoul. He said the government is declaring war on drugs and is committed to protecting citizens from drugs and creating a healthy society by mobilizing all necessary resources to eradicate drugs.

The obligation to check past drug use will be gradually phased in with stronger drugs, such as fentanyl, which have a high risk of abuse. If doctors suspect overuse or habitual use, they may refuse to prescribe the medication. Sanctions for doctors who violate the mandatory history check will be determined by a later enactment of ordinances.

The government also plans to launch a “Special Narcotics Investigation HQ” consisting of 840 personnel from related agencies such as prosecutors, police, and customs officials to combat drug crimes. The special unit will focus on investigating online drug trafficking, large-scale smuggling, and drug supplies targeting adolescents. “Investigations on narcotics have mostly been the responsibility of the prosecution, but the prosecution is no longer able to investigate drug possession and use the revision of the investigative authorities,” Minister Bang said. “The new headquarters will cooperate with other government agencies to crack down on drug crimes.”

During the cabinet meeting on the same day, Minister of Justice Han Dong-hoon said that he plans to establish a “Drug and Organized Crime Division (provisional)” in the near future, restoring the prosecution’s ability to investigate drug crimes. The violent crime department, which was in charge of tackling drugs and organized crimes, was reduced in scope by being merged into an anti-crime and violent crime department under the Moon Jae-in administration.

The government is also planning to focus on investigating drug trafficking on the Dark Web, a hidden network of websites accessible only through specific browsers that has been used for illegal drug transactions from overseas.

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