PDEA warns bizmen on undiluted product

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

THE Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) will crackdown on manufacturers, distributors and retailers who fail to dilute their toluene-based contact cement, popularly known as “rugby.

In an interview with Serbisyo Publiko hosted by Councilor Perla Zulueta Sunday, Paul Ledesma, PDEA regional director, said rugby sans the 5% mustard oil is now classified a dangerous drug.

“This pursuant to Board Regulation No. 6-2007 of the Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB) due to the prevalent use of rugby as one of the top abused drugs in the country. This regulation covers all importers, manufacturers, distributors, sellers, and handlers of the adhesive,” Ledesma said.

Toluene is also included in the 1988 UN Convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances.

Cheap and available even in sari-sari stores, rugby has toluene which attracts drug users for its aromatic and addictive properties.

The DDB said there are more than 357 contact cement abusers confined in government and private rehabilitation centers nationwide, with the youngest at 9 years old.

Shabu, marijuana and inhalants, particularly contact cement are the top three abused drugs in the country, according to the 2004 National Household Survey and 2007 rehabilitation facility-based studies conducted by the DDB.

The DDB said habitual users of toluene-based contact cement will suffer brain damage, kidney and liver failure, sight and hearing loss, muscle weakness, leukemia, and death.

Mustard oil is a colorless to pale yellow pungent irritating oil that is obtained by distillation from the seeds, usually of black mustard, after expression of the fatty oil and maceration with water, or through chemical synthesis. It consists largely of allyl isothiocyanate, a volatile compound with a characteristic of pungent odor capable of inducing eye tears

Ledesma said mustard oil dampens toluene’s attractive smell making the contact cement pungent and less desirable to abusers.

“The 5% mustard oil will discourage rugby users from sniffing the contact cement and similar products,” Ledesma said.

The DDB regulation said “the obnoxious odor of the contact cement with at least 5% mustard oil shall be present and maintained from the time of manufacture or importation of the product until the same is utilized by the end-user, and/or the volatility of the mustard oil shall be less than that of the toluene content of the product.”

Ledesma said they will begin the crackdown after they observed that some hardware stores are still selling undiluted rugby.

Atty. Ronnie Delicana, PDEA-6 legal officer, said PDEA can conduct test buys on stores suspected of selling undiluted rugby.

Under the DDB regulation, all contact cement manufacturers who want to be exempted must secure a permit from PDEA.

Manufactures who will violate the regulation will be charged with violations of Republic Act 9165 (Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002) which has penalties ranging from life imprisonment to death, and a fine ranging from P500,000 to P10 million.

The regulation also orders manufacturers to place the 5% mustard oil additive on product labels, cartons and containers.

“We will be conducting random checks on hardware stores and other establishments selling toluene-based contact cement to find out if they are following the law. Anyway, we have informed them of the new regulation the past two years,” Ledesma said.