CEFIC: members will only sell GHB intermediate to legitimate industry users

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Cefic has agreed to make sure its members only sell the intermediate gamma butyrolactone (GBL) to legitimate users to stop it being abused or used in “date rape” drug GHB.

The organisation – which represents European chemical industry – announced the commitment this week, explaining its members will no longer sell either GBL or 1,4-butanediol (BDO) – a solvent that is also often abused - to private consumers.

In 2004, the European Commission (EC) said industry should police use of both chemicals, adding them to its list of Non-Scheduled Drugs earmarked for voluntary monitoring. The following year Cefic’s BDO & Derivatives sector group endorsed a voluntary code designed to prevent their misuse.

No private sales

The 2005 commitment required that manufacturers only supply GBL and BDO “to credible customers with known and understood industrial and professional end-uses.” It also stated signatories do not support the supply of either chemical to private consumers.

In a statement this week Cefic said the “code served a starting point for an international code that was developed together with the American Chemistry Council (ACC), the Japan Chemistry Industry Association (JCIA) and the China Petroleum & Chemical Industry Federation (CPCIF). 

The code was adopted in April by the Internal Council of Chemical Associations (ICCA) and is perceived as a best practice example in the field of responsible care and product stewardship” adding that “The next step is now to spread these practices to manufacturing companies all over the world by having them endorse the code.”

GBL Background

GBL is a widely used solvent found in a wide variety of products, from paint strippers and nail polish removers to circuit board cleaners.

It is also used in the production of pyrrolidones, which in turn are used to make drugs like the respiratory stimulant Dopram (doxapram hydrochloride).

GBL is also used to make the schedule I product Gamma Hydroxybutyric Acid (GHB), which, is the active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) in Jazz Pharmaceutical's Schedule III cataplexy treatment, Xyrem.

GHB has also gained infamy as a result of its use as recreational narcotic and in so called “date-rape” crimes, which is why its production is strictly controlled.

According to 2014 data from the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) Expert Committee on Drug Dependence, international production and trade of GBL is “at least of the order of hundreds of thousands of metric tons.”

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