© 2019 - International Centre for Investigative Reporting
DRUG ABUSE: FG bans production, importation of codeine syrup
Isaac Adewole, Minister of Health, has announced a ban on all pharmaceutical products containing codeine as an active ingredient.
This is following an undercover report by the BBC detailing the devastating effects of addiction to cough syrups, especially in Northern Nigeria.
Codeine is one of the active ingredients in cough syrups, but many youths are hooked to it because of its addictive nature.
According t o a statement issued by the health ministry on Tuesday, Adewole directed the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) to quit issuing permits for the importation of codeine.
Instead, Adewole said cough syrups containing Dextromethorphan, a less addictive substance, could be used in treating coughs and related ailments.
He also directed the Pharmaceutical Council of Nigeria, (PCN) and NAFDAC to ensure that all codeine containing cough syrups were recalled. “The Pharmacists Council of Nigeria (PCN) has been directed to continue enforcement activities on Pharmacies, Patent and Proprietary Medicine Vendor’s Shops and outlets throughout the country,” the statement read.
Other agencies that were mandated to join in ensuring the implementation of the directive include, the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) and the Nursing and Midwifery Council of Nigeria (NMCN).
“These agencies shall work together to increase pharmacovigilance around codeine, tramadol and other related substances of abuse,” Adewole stated.
“The FMOH shall ensure that drug treatment intervention for victims of substances abuse shall be undertaken across the spectrum of health care delivery system in the country.”
Adewole said the federal government is committed to the full implementation of the National Drug Distribution Guideline (NDDG) as from January 1, 2019.
The menace of drug abuse among the youths, including women, in Northern Nigeria is not a new development.
ICIR had carried out detailed undercover investigation in 2016, revealing how addiction to cough syrups is ravaging women in several Northern States including Sokoto, Kaduna, Katsina and Kano.
The two part report also revealed that many shop owners operating in several military barracks deal on cough syrup without fear of being arrested by the NDLEA, because the agency cannot come into the barracks to make arrests.
The investigation led to the closure of patent medicine stalls in some barracks in the North, but nothing else was done by the authorities.