Uzbek pharmacists ordered to ration potassium permanganate

Pharmacies in Uzbekistan have been ordered to limit sales of potassium permanganate, according to local news reports. 

Potassium permanganate is used worldwide as a household disinfectant, and even used as a gargle in a weak (0.1 per cent) solution. But it is also recognised worldwide as the chemical oxidiser of choice for a key step in cocaine production.

The Uzbek public health ministry reportedly made its latest ruling in an effort to combat the drug, and potassium permanganate can now be sold in quantities no greater than 5g.

An international chemical control initiative called Operation Purple tracks potassium permanganate from the countries where it is produced to end users. Operation Purple is involves more than thirty countries, including Uzbekistan, and three international bodies - the International Criminal Police Organisation (Interpol), the International Narcotics Control Board, and the World Customs Organisation (WCO). The project has shown ’marked success in preventing and detecting diversion of key chemicals used in the illicit production of cocaine,’ according to the US Drug Enforcement Agency.