However, many officials suggest that the drug should be treated the same as SP

The Bhutan Narcotic Control Authority (BNCA) is exploring how the contents of the new drug being abused, Spasmo Proxyvon Plus, popularly known as SP+ can be confirmed.

BNCA director general, Phuntsho Wangdi, said that without a laboratory in the country to test the drug’s content, they are considering sending the drug for testing abroad.

BNCA officials said the director general has assigned the task to the senior pharmacist in the agency.

SP+, a generic form of the Spasmo Proxyvon (SP), a prescription drug used to relieve pain, and is not categorised as a controlled substance in the  Narcotic Drugs, Psychotropic Substances and Substances Abuse Act of Bhutan (NDPSSA) 2015.

It has been learnt that while the main content of SP is dextropropoxyphene, the main content of SP+ is tramadol.

The judiciary, since last month, has not passed any judgments on cases involving possession of SP+.

Phuntsho Wangdi said that ideally, the courts should treat SP+ like SP since the ingredients are the same. “Our understanding is that manufacturers have just given a different name to bypass the law since SP is banned in India,” he said.

He added that the courts should ensure that the country does not have to keep amending the NDPSSA 2015. “It is SP+ this time but next time, manufacturers might have a different name.”

Another BNCA official, who did not want to be named, said BNCA has been providing its expert view on controlled substances to courts whenever required.

“Our senior pharmacist goes to court whenever summoned to explain the addiction probability of the drugs and even on SP+,” said the official. Other officials from BNCA and the Drug Regulatory Authority (DRA) have also given their expert views a few times, the official added.

She explained that officials from DRA and BNCA submitted before the courts that SP+ has narcotic contents, one of them being opium, which is addictive.

Another BNCA official, on the condition of anonymity, said he does not understand why the issue of SP+ has emerged when the courts have passed judgments on SP+ many times before.

“BNCA officials were summoned to court and we explained that although the contents of SP and SP+ are different, it has more effect and thereby should be treated like any other controlled substance.

Supreme Court officials were not available for comment.

Meanwhile, the BNCA director general said that the courts should treat SP+ like SP to curb its illegal use. “Court officials need to look into the larger implication of the controlled substance.”

Tashi Dema