Nubain new favored drug of Cebu’s shabu users – PDEA

Ryan Macasero
Nubain new favored drug of Cebu’s shabu users – PDEA
Prices of shabu have soared to P6,500 per gram from P1,500 because of the government's war on drugs, leading drug addicts to a cheaper alternative

CEBU CITY, Philippines – An official of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) said the skyrocketing price of methamphetamine, locally known as “shabu,” has prompted many drug dependents here to shift to a cheaper drug of choice: synthetic pain killer Nubain.

PDEA Central Visayas Director Yogi Filemon Ruiz told reporters on Thursday, September 1, that the price of shabu has soared to P6,500 per gram from P1,500 because of the government’s clampdown on illegal drugs.

“That’s because they have a hard time finding it now,” Ruiz said.

As shabu prices spiked, ‘based on a two-week monitoring in the region, incidences of Nubain [use] have risen,” the PDEA official said.

He said affordability and availability are two reasons why Nubain has become more popular. Although he did not have exact figures on the price, Ruiz said Nubain is “much cheaper than shabu.”

Ruiz also warned that the drug poses more health risks as it is injectable.

“Just because we didn’t focus on Nubain before, doesn’t mean we won’t arrest them now. Nubain is even more dangerous because you use it by injection. There’s a risk for AIDS, hepatitis, and other diseases.”

While Nubain is legal in some countries, the Dangerous Drugs Board classified it as an illegal drug in 2011. Those found guilty of possessing or selling the drug face a life sentence.

Ruiz said the brand of Nubain being sold in the country is generic and most likely smuggled from Pakistan.

He said that in Cebu City, the drug is most commonly found in the Kamagayan area, once known as the go-to area for shabu customers – and in Barangay Pardo.

Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña said he would help the PDEA fight shabu and Nubain by providing a P2,000 allowance for personnel in Cebu City. –

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Ryan Macasero

Ryan covers Cebu and the Visayas for Rappler. He covers all news in the region, but is particularly interested in people stories, development issues and local policy making.