The Three Drug Alphabets You Must Know

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Nisha Giri
Nisha is a part of the marketing and research team at Amtrix Technology.

Have you ever wondered why you can get yourself an aspirin without a prescription while being denied of that pain killer you googled for your backache? Although it seems pretty obvious to come to the answer, this rationalisation has a lot to cover. Drug classification could be your first step to understanding Rational Use of Drug and drug control.

Based on the potential degree of danger and toxicity, drugs are broadly placed under class A, class B and class C categories. Their corresponding Nepali (barga) referents are Ka, Kha and Ga. ‘Potential danger’ of a drug, in this case, does not just imply metabolic threats to an individual but also the threat to society led by misuse. For example, general access to acid has resulted in heinous crimes.

This classification has its origin in the three main international drug control conventions: the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs of 1961, the United Nations Convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances of 1988 and, the Convention on Psychotropic Substances of 1971. This universal categorization of drugs is embedded by every country in their drug distribution rulebooks. In Nepal, this categorization is issued, regulated and, controlled by Drug Distribution Administration (DDA) under the Drug Act 2035.

Class ‘A’/Barga ‘Ka’

This category of drugs includes narcotics or poisonous drugs with active psychoactive elements identified to cause a lethal effect in case of misuse. The group of drugs under class A is what colloquial use of the term ‘drug’ in “drug addiction” refers to. However, it is not as notorious in the scientific community. Opium(and most of its derivatives – morphine, heroine), coca, cocaine, methadone, etc are some of the examples of class A drugs.

The drugs(including the synthetic versions) in this category are illegal to own, manufacture, or distribute except under conditions specified by Drug Distribution Administration (DDA). Although therapeutic use of these drugs are rare, Because the misuse can lead to either irreversible damages or death, Doctor’s prescription is mandatory while buying or selling drugs under class A. It is also specified that the drug under this category cannot be sold if the distributor or vendor is not a professional where ‘professional’ refers to a licence holding pharmacist or a pharmacy assistant. If it is sold by a non-professional, the transaction must take place in the presence of a professional.

“Narcotic Drug” as listed by Narcotic Drugs(control) Act means: (1) Cannabis/ marijuana (2) Medicinal cannabis/ marijuana (3) Opium (4) Processed opium (5) Medicinal opium (6) Plants and leaves of coca, and (6A) Any substances to be prepared by mixing opium and extract coca, including mixture or salt. (7) Any natural or synthetic narcotic drug or psychotropic substances and their salts and other substances as may be specified by the Government of Nepal by a notification published in the Nepal Gazette, from time to time.

Drugs Control Act, Nepal, 2035

Class ‘B’/Barga ‘Kha’

This category of drugs includes both psychoactive (drugs that stimulate the central nervous system and can be addictive) and therapeutic drugs like antibiotics. Drugs with psychoactive elements are used for therapeutic purposes in controlled dosage. For example, amphetamines are used in the treatment of ADHD and narcolepsy. Barbiturates like benzodiazepine are used in the treatment of depression, anxiety, migraines, epilepsy and cluster headaches as sedatives. They are also used in capital punishment and euthanasia. Class B drugs become class A drugs if they are produced for injection. The distribution rule for Category B is similar to that of Category A.

Class ‘C’/Over the counter drugs/Barga Ga

This includes basically every pill, tablet, ointment, or cream that you have ever brought from a pharmacy without a prescription. Yes, including the sanitizers! What differentiates class C from class A and class B is primarily the degree of toxicity that the composition of these drugs offers. Over the counter drugs are so considered safe and effective for non-prescriptive usage. However, these are, for obvious reasons, not accessible to children.

Anybody with sufficient experience and knowledge can distribute the drugs under this category. Unlike class A, presence of a pharmacist or a professional is not compulsory.

Tobacco and alcohol fall under class C. And, it has been widely debated that they have posed a greater threat to people’s health than the prescriptive drugs. Studies have shown that alcohol and tobacco are more damaging than LSD and ecstasy. Regardless of the legality and scope of misuse, it’s always best to take precaution while consuming drug under any class.

Drug categories Drug classification Drug Misuse Drugs ka kha ga barga Narcotics Rational use of drugs Types of drugs