In a bid to curtail the gross abuse of codeine in the country, the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) has been directed by the federal government to ban further issuance of permits for the importation of codeine as active pharmaceutical ingredient for cough preparations.
The Minister of Health, Professor Isaac Adewole, who made this known yesterday in a statement signed by assistant director of Information in the ministry, Olajide Oshundun, said the directive is with immediate effect.
According to him, the directive became necessary due to the gross abuse codeine usage has been subjected to in the country.
In its stead, the minister said codeine containing cough syrups should be replaced with dextromethorphan, which is less addictive.
He also directed the Pharmaceutical Council of Nigeria (PCN) and NAFDAC to supervise the recall for labelling and audit trailing of all codeine containing cough syrups in the country, while also banning sales of codeine containing cough syrup without prescription across the country.
The minister noted that NAFDAC had an emergency meeting with the Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Group (PMGMAN) to inform them of the embargo on all new applications for registration of codeine- containing cough syrups as well as applications for renewal has been abolished.
He said, “The PCN has also been directed to continue enforcement activities on Pharmacies, Patent and Proprietary Medicine Vendor’s Shops and outlets throughout the country.
“NAFDAC was also directed to fully carry out its functions, among others, to regulate and control the manufacturing, distribution and sale of drugs, including inspection at points of entry of drugs, drug products and food for compliance with the new directive”.
Adewole further stated that the ministry will ensure collaboration among regulatory agencies namely NAFDAC, PCN, National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), Nursing and Midwifery Council of Nigeria (NMCN) for effective implementation of extant Acts, regulations, policies and guidelines on codeine control and usage.
“These agencies shall work together to increase pharmacovigilance around codeine, tramadol and other related substances of abuse,’ Adewole added.
Nigerians Drink 3Million Codeine Cough Syrup Daily- Investigation.
Meanwhile, investigation has revealed that about three million bottles of codeine cough syrup are consumed daily by Nigerians, especially by those living in the Northern part of the country.
This was disclosed during the BBC launch of Africa Eye, a new television investigations strand for Africa held in Lagos.
Available statistics and facts showed that senior officers in Nigeria’s pharmaceutical industry moved the codeine products via back door of their factories into the hands of drug dealers who sold the dangerous addictive drugs to people.
BBC pidgin reporter, Ruona Meyer, whose brother died as a result of Codeine cough syrup, unraveled the secrets of the syrup plague and exposed criminals behind it.
According to the investigation, codeine cough syrup can now be bought in nightclubs of Lagos and on the ancient backstreets of Kano.
The clip confirming their nefarious activities revealed that one of the staff of Emzor Company was allegedly part of the people involved in the shady business.
Editor of the BBC pidgin, Adejuwon Soyinka said, “It is shocking we found and how much of an epidemic cough syrup abuse has become in Nigeria. Equally shocking is the sheer size of criminal network involved in the illicit trade”.
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