Pharmacists acting like ‘street drug dealers’ are flooding the black market with potentially dangerous prescription drugs such as Xanax.
A Daily Mail investigation has uncovered evidence of chemists illegally selling highly addictive medication for cash without asking for prescriptions.
The drugs can then be swiftly sold on through social media to young people in schools and universities where they are increasingly being abused with devastating consequences.
Suited, bespectacled and looking a little older than his 53 years, Anatolijus Kostiukevicius exudes the air of respectability you expect from a central London pharmacist
He is approached by a stranger in his 20s asking for Xanax, the Class C controlled drug blighting the lives of teenagers across Britain. Immediately, it is apparent Mr Kostiukevicius is not as respectable as his appearance would suggest. ‘Sixty tablets, £150,’ he replies, without missing a beat
Pharmacists are exploiting a growing trend among young people for prescription-only drugs such as the strong benzodiazepines Xanax and diazepam and the opioid tramadol.
Drug dealers sell the Xanax tablets – which are used to treat anxiety – on social media for between £1 and £3 each.
One pharmacist in London sold hundreds of dangerous Class C controlled prescription drugs to an undercover Mail reporter for prices higher than those on the ‘street’.
Another told a reporter in Manchester to buy the drugs – with side effects including hallucinations and heart failure – from the internet. He said they wouldn’t be fake because ‘people get them from the NHS and sell them on eBay.’
The balding Lithuanian stands at the back of Al Razi Pharmacy in Edgware Road, surrounded by colourful medicine boxes stacked high on shelves. A large sign reads: ‘Prescriptions’
Despite breaking the law in supplying a controlled substance and breaching one of the fundamental tenets of pharmaceutical practice in supplying prescription-only drugs without a prescription, the pharmacist maintains a confusing professionalism, asking: ‘Would you like a bag?’
When confronted with the allegations, Mr Kostiukevicius admitted that selling the medication was illegal but said he ‘did not know about the situation’
Two pharmacists have been struck off the pharmaceutical register this year for selling thousands of tablets to dealers. It can also be revealed:
Student hanged herself after suffering withdrawal from Xanax
Student Raven Hunt hanged herself after suffering withdrawal symptoms from Xanax.
Miss Hunt, 21, had been using the medication for six weeks after it was given to her by a fellow student to help cope with anxiety ahead of her final exams.
But two weeks before her death, she decided to stop taking the drug and immediately struggled.
Student Raven Hunt hanged herself after suffering withdrawal symptoms from Xanax
In extreme cases, coming off Xanax following lengthy spells of abuse can lead to psychosis, depression and suicidal thoughts.
Miss Hunt was told by her GP that any treatment could only start after a few weeks without the drug.
On April 13 last year, the body of the sociology student at the University of the West of England was found in Leigh Woods, Bristol. She had been just weeks from graduating.
Following an inquest which found traces of Xanax in Miss Hunt’s blood, her family have called on the police to do more to combat the sale of the prescription drug in the area.
They said: ‘As a family, we will only be able to really come to terms with what has happened if the suppliers of Xanax are stopped as this will provide us with a sense of purpose and some closure.’
Miss Hunt, one of four children brought up by their mother Emmy in Southampton, planned to become a social worker. She had broken up with a boyfriend and was drinking excessive amounts of alcohol while taking Xanax at the time of her death.
Her mother, 42, added: ‘She enjoyed her time in Bristol, and wanted to stay there after university and work with children. She was very passionate about it. I don’t know why she would throw it away. I will never get over it or accept it. It’s still so raw – she meant the world to me.’
It came as head teachers warned of the dangers of Xanax and other prescription drugs after a series of terrifying incidents involving youngsters.
Earlier this month, teenagers at the prestigious Lord Williams’s School in Oxfordshire passed out after taking Xanax and one was admitted to hospital. It came just days after a coroner warned of the ‘pernicious influence’ of Xanax after Georgia Jackson, 21, hanged herself two days after taking the drug in December. Last month, Andrew Halls, head of the independent King’s College School in Wimbledon, South West London, wrote an open letter to parents warning of the dangers of Xanax, describing how several pupils had asked teachers how to break the ‘da