Updated: 07/15/2013 21:17

$1.25m codeine bust

Photo : HSA

Photo : HSA

The authorities have seized almost two thousand litres of codeine cough syrup worth 1.25 million on the streets following a three month investigation. 

The joint investigation by the Health Sciences Authority (HSA), and the Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB), targeted a suspected codeine syndicate which carried out their illegal activity at various locations. 

Four Singaporean men were arrested and are currently assisting HSA with investigations. 

HSA says rhe illegal import of codeine-based syrup was first detected by Immigration & Checkpoints Authority officers at Keppel Distripark in March. 

HSA's investigations found that 3.8-litre canisters of illegal cough syrup were brought in under the guise of other products such as tire shine, porcelain cleaners and degreasers. 

The suspects brought the canisters to a house and a rented storage facility, where they were processed and repackaged into smaller quantities, before being distributed to the black market. 

Codeine cough syrups are used medically as a cough suppressant. 

They are classified as pharmacy-only-medicines and can only be supplied by a licensed pharmacist or a licensed medical practitioner. 

HSA says if used without proper medical supervision, they can often lead to dependence, as well as other side effects such as nausea, vomiting, constipation and confusion. 

When taken in excess, they may cause hallucinations, decreased heart rate and breathing, leading to coma and death. 

Under the Poisons Act, anyone caught importing, selling or possessing products containing codeine without a licence can be fined up to 10 thousand dollars or jailed up to 2 years or both.

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