The illegal, addictive opioid being sold under the counter in Aussie grocery stores

“Kamini balls”, the street name of an illegal herbal drug that contains a high addictive opioidsare often packaged in small, innocuous-looking glass bottles.

And if you know where to go, according to a team of researchers in Queensland, there are grocery stores scattered across Australia’s biggest cities that sell Kamini under the counter to people who are addicted to drugs and those who have no idea that they are using opiates. .

“The balls are a little brownish, not the formal looking tablets you might expect to see from a reputable pharmaceutical source,” said Dr Jeremy Hayllar, of the Alcohol and Drug Service , Metro North Health in Brisbane at

“They are literally round, grey-brown balls.”

Researchers said many patients in rehabilitation centers had no idea Kamini was an addictive opioid, which is banned in Australia by the TGA.
Researchers said many patients in rehabilitation centers had no idea Kamini was an addictive opioid, which is banned in Australia by the TGA. (Provided)
Hayllar is co-author of a recently released book studywho investigated the problem in South East Queensland.

Produced in India and with a major active ingredient derived from the opium poppy, Kamini is secretly shipped across Australian borders and distributed to Asian grocery stores across the country, according to the study.

the Administration of Therapeutic Goods (TGA) banned Kamini, with a stern warning “these tablets pose a serious risk to your health and should not be taken”.

Hayllar said grocery stores were selling Kamini illegally and addiction to the illicit drug was a kind of invisible but “quite widespread” problem in Australia.

A bottle of Kamini typically contains 40 balls, and some Queenslanders Hayllar meets swallow 30 a day.

“It doesn’t matter which opioid does it, they all act on the same brain receptor,” he explained.

“Once this brain receptor gets its daily feed, if you will, if you try to take it away, the brain protests really loudly.”

It was the Covid-19 pandemicwhich seriously throttled the supply of Kamini at various stores in Queensland and drove prices up by $110 to $180 a bottle, leading to illegal products being sent to the research team’s radar.
During the pandemic, two drug addicted Queenslanders who had been cut off from their Kamini sources sought help with opioids treatment centers.

They showed typical signs of opioid withdrawal that had been “difficult to explain”, according to the study, until the contents of the Kamini balls were determined.

Addicts said Kamini was 'readily available' in grocery stores across Brisbane.
Addicts said Kamini was ‘readily available’ in grocery stores across Brisbane. (New / Matt Dennien)

Hayllar said the team decided to check the records of 1,500 patients at four public opioid treatment centers in southeast Queensland.

Cross-checking, they found 10 other Kamini addicts.

The 12 patients were then interviewed, painting a picture of Kamini’s use, addiction and distribution in South East Queensland, and the peer-reviewed research was published today in Drug and alcohol review.

Among other things, Kamini is promoted as a kind of medicine for sexual virility, curing erectile dysfunction, impotence and premature ejaculation.

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But Hayllar said most Kamini addicts he came into contact with had no idea Kamini contained opioids, only that it might help them work longer and relieve stress or pain.

There were common factors in the group of 12 people using the substance, Hayllar said.

Eleven were Indian men, with a median age of 32.

The only non-Indian was a woman, who was the wife of one of the men.

Some members of the group worked in the ride-sharing industry, a sector known for its long hours and synonymous with migrant workers.

On average, members of the group used 15 bullets a day, with each dose of Kamini delivering approximately 3 mg of morphine.

The heaviest users swallow dozens of balls a day, Hayllar said, with three men having habits of 30 a day.

“It’s something that people get stuck in and it’s very hard to escape,” he said.

The prescription drug OxyContin continues to kill.
The prescription drug OxyContin continues to kill. (Getty)

Despite Hayllar’s suggestion the illegal sale of Kamini is “fairly widespread” in Australian towns, particularly among the Indian migrant community, a Queensland Police Service spokesperson told that they “did not identify this substance as a trend or a problem”.

The spokesman said Queensland Police ‘encourage anyone with information about the supply of dangerous drugs’ to contact law enforcement.

The Australian Federal Police declined to comment on Kamini or the study’s claims.

But Hayllar told he was aware of Kamini being sold in North Queensland, Perth, Sydney and New Zealand, reflecting a hidden illicit drug scene.

The study reported that people taking Kamini said the opioid was “readily available” in Brisbane and that Kamini balls were “widely used among their peers”.

“We know there’s a lot going on underground,” Hayllar said.

“Because it’s an under-the-counter activity…it’s hard to determine how common it is.”

The amount of Kamini sold in Australia is unknown, according to the study, as is the number of Australians who have developed an untreated opioid addiction.

Readers seeking help and information on drugs and alcohol can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Beyond Blue on 1300 224 636 or the National Alcohol and Other Drugs Helpline on 1800 250 015.

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