Smokers are liable to die young

Martins Ifijeh

As part of efforts to tackle the increase in drug abuse in Nigeria among youths, the Nigeria Representative of Overseas Pharmaceutical Manufacturers (NIROPHARM) has blamed weak regulatory control and poor funding of regulatory agencies for the drug crisis in the country.

NIROPHARM in a statement signed by the President, Mr. Femi Soremekun, said: “The regulatory environment is weak and deficient, and requires strengthening for comprehensive regulation of all outlets involved in the supply and dispensing of pharmaceutical products.”

The group said the abuse of codeine, other opioids such as tramadol as well as hypnotics such as flunitrazepam is endemic and requires a holistic approach by the government, regulators, industry players and the community to mitigate.

They urged government to set up a multidisciplinary committee to evaluate the root causes as well as look at ways of managing the menace of substance abuse in Nigeria.

NIROPHARM, however, commended the recent efforts of the National Assembly in proposing two bills on substance abuse and mental health, as well as drug control. The group urged government to work with stakeholders on proffering safer alternatives to these drugs of abuse so as to prevent imminent underground and illicit trade on these opioids.

They said government should put adequate measures in place for the fallout of the ban on codeine syrups including managing the withdrawal syndrome on addicts and also create more rehabilitation centres to take care of such fallouts.

NIROPHARM said the need for the implementation of the National Drug Distribution Guidelines (NDDG) cannot be over-emphasised and NIROPHARM fully support the January 2019 take-off date.

They said growing menace of unhindered access to all classes of drugs by the populace could only by tamed with good distribution practices by all stakeholders and proper oversight by regulators.

NIROPHARM said the NDDG must be hinged on good infrastructure, regulations and technology with track and trace components such as serialisation of each pack of product released into the Nigerian pharmaceutical supply chain; where all players in the supply and value chain are locked in, creating transparency on what comes in and what goes out.

NIROPHARM said it was open to consultation with government to look at ways to improve the drug distribution system in Nigeria.