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Home > Dail Eireann debate. Written answer 282 - Drugs crime [43938/14] [Methadone].

[Oireachtas] Dail Eireann debate. Written answer 282 - Drugs crime [43938/14] [Methadone]. (18 Nov 2014)

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282. Deputy Ciara Conway asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if she has statistics or findings that would suggest methodone is being sold illegally or if there is a black market for this heroin substitute here; the steps she is taking to combat this; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [43938/14] 

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): As the Deputy may be aware, methadone is a Schedule 2 controlled drug under the Misuse of Drugs Regulations 1988 which means that strict prescription, recording and storage requirements apply. 

Further requirements are set out under the Misuse of Drugs (Supervision of Prescription and Supply of Methadone) Regulations 1998, made under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1977, reflecting the fact that it is most commonly used in treatment programmes for opiate dependency. 

As my colleague, the Minister for Health, recently indicated to the House responsibility for the provision of opioid substitution treatment, mainly methadone, rests with the Health Service Executive (HSE). All patients in receipt of methadone maintenance treatment are recorded on the HSE Central Treatment List, and treatment delivery is monitored in accordance with the Methadone Treatment Protocol. The aim of this Protocol is to manage the distribution of methadone and minimise the risk of diversion for onward sale. 

I am further informed that as methadone is a controlled drug there is an audit procedure for the total volumes of supply through the wholesalers which is overseen by the Health Products Regulatory Authority. 

With regard to the role of An Garda Síochána, I can inform the Deputy that drug law enforcement remains a key priority area for An Garda Síochána, in accordance with its role under the National Drugs Strategy 2009-2016 and the priorities identified in the annual Garda Síochána Policing Plan. The Garda National Drugs Unit works closely with dedicated Divisional and District Drug Units and other national units in targeting persons involved in the illicit sale and supply of drugs. 

The Annual Reports of An Garda Síochána provide further information concerning the type and value of illegal drugs seized by An Garda Síochána each year including methadone seizures. 

I have requested An Garda Síochána to provide a report on the issue raised by the Deputy and I will contact the Deputy again as soon as the information is received.

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