Behaviour of the Phentermine Diet Pills Trafficking Network from the Government Control System

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Niparat Sawatju Sawatju


Background: The problem of smuggling phentermine diet pills for sale via online channels such as Instagram, Line, and Facebook was still a severe and widespread social problem, resulting in people’ s deaths. Drug trafficking has spread widely with the characteristics of drug trafficking network. One of the reasons was the leak of the government's control system.

Objectives:  To study behavior of the trafficking network of phentermine diet pills that out of the Thai government control system.

Methods: This was a qualitative study of all requests suspected of smuggling phentermine diet weight loss pills out of government control in Thailand between July 2018 and July 2019, totaling 80 copies; it was an observation study of every tracking process from the Thai Food and Drug Administration (Thai FDA) to the destination from September 2018 to March 2019. The organization then organized a focus group meeting with 40 Narcotics Suppression Police and drug official Thai FDA.

Results: Of the 525 requests to purchase phentermine diet pills, 80 were suspected of drug smuggling out of the Thai government's control network (15.24%). From the general information of the request, it was found that most of the drug recipients were female (the same person), 61.25%, non-medical representatives who were authorized to receive the drug instead, become a doctor to pick up medicines for your own clinic by yourself, and being a physician authorized to receive medication instead of other hospitals at 63.75, 23.75, and 12.50%, respectively. 100% of the drug purchase requests were made once a month, and each time it was found that 37.50% were purchased at the same time, followed by 2 and 4 same purchase requests at 20.00%. In the transportation process, it was found that there were many drug deliveries, such as an appointment to deliver medicines on the way, sent by post, and by bus routes at 100.00%. Then, followed by vehicle interchange and changing the transport route at the same rate of 90.00%; change of storage location or stopping point before delivery to the capitalist, 84.25%; including change of clothing during transportation, 7.50%.

          It was also found that all purchase requests were for hospitals that only purchased phentermine diet pills; no medical facility was an aesthetic medical facility; the drug was not found to be used in a medical facility that asked for permission; no bookkeeping and drug use reports were found at an authorised medical facility; and it was not found any medical records of patients concerning drug use at the approved medical facilities in all places.

           And when collecting opinions from government officials about the network's behaviour, it was found that the pattern of offences started with capitalists hiring doctors to leave prescriptions for drugs, and there were assistants in the preparation of drug use reports sent to the Thai FDA and then sold through social media without being used to treat their own patients. It also found that behaviour was a complex process. There was a clear division of duties in deceitful officials. For example, authorising others to receive medicine for 4-5 clinics at the same time, around 4-5 clinics in many provinces, people took the medicine in many drug shelters, and new drug shelters have been changed, transforming vehicles and transportation routes into difficult-to-follow personnel.

Conclusions: Buyers of phentermine diet pills were suspicious of about one in seven purchase requests, with a pattern of offences ranging from permitting to shipping to networked drug repositories, which was difficult to monitor. Therefore, the Thai FDA should increase the control measures to be more stringent and add a method to check the status of the current purchase request immediately (in real time) to reduce the problem of smuggling at the source, such as identity and vehicle identification, as well as vehicle tracking and diet pills, to track patients or recipients' drugs.

Article Details

How to Cite
Sawatju NS. Behaviour of the Phentermine Diet Pills Trafficking Network from the Government Control System. TFDJ [Internet]. 2023 Mar. 22 [cited 2024 Apr. 24];30(1):16-31. Available from:
Research Article
Author Biography

Niparat Sawatju Sawatju, Narcotics Control Division, Food and Drug Administration, Nonthaburi

Narcotics Control Division, Food And Drug Administration, Tiwanon Road, Mueang District, Nonthaburi, 11000, Thailand


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