Following an outcry over the abuse of opioids in Nigeria, the Federal Government has directed the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), to ban with immediate effect further issuance of permits for the importation of codeine as active pharmaceutical ingredient for cough syrups.
The Minister of Health, Prof Isaac Adewole, who gave the directive in Abuja recently, said the directive became necessary due to the gross abuse of Codeine usage in the country, adding that 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 labeling and audit trailing all codeine containing cough syrups in the country.
Prof Adewole also banned sales of codeine containing cough syrup without prescription across the country. â€œWe had an emergency meeting with NAFDAC and the Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Group (PMGMAN) to inform them that there is an embargo on all new applications for registration of codeine-containing cough syrups as well as applications for renewal has been abolished.
â€œNAFDAC was directed to fully 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.
â€œThe Pharmacists Council of Nigeria (PCN) was also directed to continue enforcement activities on pharmacies, patent and proprietary medicine vendorâ€™s shops and outlets throughout the country.
He said the Federal Ministry of Health shall 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.
â€œFurthermore, these agencies shall work together to increase pharmacovigilance around codeine, tramadol and other related substances of abuse. Already, NAFDAC has developed IEC materials that will be used in an already planned national campaign against drug abuse, an awareness programme that includes Young Pharmacists Group of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria. This will soon be flagged off in Kano and Lagos.â€
Adewole added that as a way of discouraging youths to shun drugs, the Federal Ministry of Health shall partner with National Orientation Agency (NOA), Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), football celebrities, members of the Actors Guild of Nigeria, Performing Musicians of Nigeria and other celebrities to drive national campaign against drug abuse.
â€œThe 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,â€ he stated.