Kuwaiti MPs call for drug testing in schools in crackdown on Lyrica

Interior Ministry announces seizure of 15 million illegally obtained Lyrica pills and half a tonne of the medicine in powder form

Students sit together at Kuwait University in Kuwait City. AFP
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The Kuwaiti parliament's educational affairs committee on Thursday unanimously approved a draft proposal to require secondary schools and universities to carry out drug testing for staff and students as part of a wider crackdown on the use of narcotics.

The draft adopted by the parliamentary committee called for those who test positive for drugs to be placed in a rehabilitation programme so they can be “reintegrated into society”.

“Youth are the leaders of the future and the beating heart of Kuwait and the state must invest in this future to protect it in schools and universities from the dangers of smoking, drug abuse and addiction,” Mohammed Al Mahan, the key sponsor of the proposed bill, told Al Qabas newspaper.

The move came hours after authorities under the Interior Ministry seized its largest-ever haul of illegal drugs that had been smuggled into the country.

The ministry on Thursday said that it had seized 15 million illegally obtained Lyrica pills and half a tonne of the medicine in powder form during a raid at a farm run by a criminal group.

Lyrica is the brand name for pregabalin, a medicine used to treat epilepsy and anxiety.

The drug reduces the number of pain signals that damaged nerves send out, however, it has become a popular party drug as it can induce a sensation similar to inebriation.

Last November, 10 million Lyrica pills were seized after a failed attempt to smuggle them from China through Kuwait's Shuwaikh port.

Kuwait instituted a state ban on the non-prescribed use of Lyrica and Neurontin, the brand name of pain medication, in May 2021, as the abuse of the two drugs became more widespread in Kuwait and across the Arab world.

Director General of the General Department for Drug Control Mohammed Qabazard told reporters last month that 95 per cent of drug dealers in the country are under surveillance.

“We are working on a special mechanism to nab them in the act so that they do not escape punishment,” he said.

Updated: February 03, 2023, 5:00 AM