The legality of antidepressants: the Ministry of Health is studying information about the criminal prosecution of Russians for the purchase of bupropion
The Russian Ministry of Health is considering the need for state control over the drug bupropion, because of the purchase of which Russians are accused of drug smuggling. Militiamen consider medicine to be derived from ephedrine banned in the Russian Federation. With the help of experts, ministry officials want to find out the narcotic potential of an antidepressant and the effectiveness of its use for medical purposes. In the meantime, the person involved in one of the first criminal cases for buying bupropion, Daria Belyaev, can be declared irresponsible, discharged and sent to compulsory treatment. Lawyer Belyaeva insists on the withdrawal of charges and the termination of the case.
The Russian Ministry of Health is considering the need to establish state control over the antidepressant bupropion. This is stated in the response of the department to the request of State Duma Deputy Yaroslav Nilov, with whom RT has become acquainted.
As noted in the letter, the drug is not included in the list of prohibited substances in Russia, but in fact is considered by law enforcement officers to be drugs. This, in turn, is the reason for initiating criminal proceedings against citizens who acquire it abroad.
The Ministry of Health explained that until 2016, bupropion was included in the register of medicines and was sold in Russian pharmacies, but then it was excluded from this list because the importer did not renew the license.
“In accordance with the information received from the GUKON Ministry of Internal Affairs of Russia, in connection with the exclusion of a drug from the registry, it became possible to recognize the substance bupropion as a derivative of the drug ephedron,” the department said.
In this regard, the Ministry of Health turned to leading Russian drug treatment specialists and psychiatrists with a request to express an opinion on the properties of the drug.
“Currently, to the address of the chief freelance psychiatrist Z.I. Kekelidze, Chief Freelance Narcologist, Ministry of Health E.A. Bryun and chief freelance specialist in analytical and forensic toxicology of the Ministry of Health B.N. Izotov sent letters asking for a competent opinion on the above issue, as well as on the possibility of using bupropion in medical practice and its narcotic potential, ”the Ministry of Health said in the response.
As reported by RT, in the spring of 2019, Russians began to prosecute the purchase of bupropion (also known as velobutrin and zyban), which is not prohibited for trafficking in the antidepressant antidepressant. Those who ordered pills in foreign pharmacies, law enforcement officers began to impute drug smuggling (229.1 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation), and in the case of purchasing through intermediaries in Russia - to attract under the article on illicit drug trafficking (228 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation). The media reported a number of similar criminal cases that are currently being investigated in several regions.
The reason for Nilov’s appeal to the Ministry of Health was a collective letter sent to the deputy by an initiative group of citizens in dire need of bupropion.
The activists noted that after the Ministry of Internal Affairs began to pursue the buyers of bupropion, they found themselves in a hopeless situation: on the one hand, other antidepressants do not help them, on the other - an order of an antidepressant can send them to the dock.
The case of Daria Belyaeva
One of the first cases of persecution of Russians for the purchase of bupropion became known in April 2019. Then the Ministry of Internal Affairs opened a criminal case against a resident of Yekaterinburg Daria Belyaeva suffering from schizotypal personality disorder.
Belyaev became a figurant of the criminal case under Part 3 of Art. 229.1 of the Criminal Code, after it ordered the antidepressant Elontril recommended by her doctor in Poland, which includes bupropion. The drug was not on the list of prohibited substances. However, during the examination it was found that it is theoretically possible to make drugs from pills. Forensic expertise of the customs administration concluded that the product can be regarded as derived from ephedrine.
Now for the purchase of 30 tablets, the girl faces up to 20 years in prison. Following the results of the inspection, the Prosecutor General’s Office recognized the initiation of the criminal case lawful.
As RT lawyer Belyaeva Irina Ruchko told, on August 2, 2019, the court, at the request of the investigator, sent the girl to a psychiatric hospital for examination.
“The investigation motivated this by the fact that the outpatient examination did not give answers to the question put by the investigator whether Belyaeva was aware of the nature of her actions,” Ruchko says. “At the same time, the experts did not even have Darya’s medical documents, because the investigation did not request them.” We will appeal the court’s decision and insist on a repeat outpatient examination. ”
According to the lawyer, otherwise Belyaev may be considered irresponsible.
“In this case, the court will release her from punishment in the criminal case of drug smuggling and will appoint a compulsory medical measure - this is not much different from prison,” the interlocutor clarifies.
Earlier, the lawyer explained that the composition of the Criminal Code incriminated to a girl provides for punishment for committing an intentional act, and in the case of Belyaeva there was no intention to smuggle drugs in drugs - she ordered a medical drug. On this basis, Ruchko intends to achieve the withdrawal of charges and the termination of the case.
Confronting threats of drug crime
In the meantime, the Interior Ministry believes that it is not worth changing the legislation that allows citizens to be held liable under “drug” articles for the purchase of so-called prohibited substances. Earlier, RT reported that, in the opinion of law enforcement officers, the existing norms help to “protect the state and society from drug aggression” and to confront contemporary challenges and threats of drug crime.
Also, the Ministry of Internal Affairs noted that the government’s ruling, which introduced the concept of derivatives into legislation, was subject to review by the Supreme Court and in 2013 was found to be consistent with current legislation.