Bill Proposes N2m Fine for Drug Abuse

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• Tramadol, codeine users are immediate target
James Emejo in Abuja
A bill proposing a N2 million fine and a two-year jail term for offenders who violate the ban on Tramadol and Codeine passed second reading in the House of Representatives yesterday.

Sponsored by Hon. Betty Apiafi (PDP, Rivers), the bill seeks to amend the Food, Drugs and Related Products (Registration, etc) Act Cap. F33 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 to review the penalties and confer jurisdiction on High Court of the State to try offences under the Act.

In her lead debate, Apiafi said: “In Nigeria, between January and December 2015, 1,044) patients were admitted for treatment in the 11 treatment centers currently part of e Nigeria Epidemiological Network  of Drug Use ( NENDU)  reporting system.”

She noted that “28.3 per cent of the patients had an opiate addiction and the opiates were mainly prescription Medicines: Tramadol (71 per cent as 1st most frequently used substance and specified), Codeine (15.1 percent) and Pentazocine (9.9 percent), Heroine and Morphine represented only 3.3 per cent of the opiates declared.”

According to her, since 2015, codeine has nearly overtaken Tramadol as the most abused opiate in Nigeria.
She said: “Thousands of young people in Nigeria are addicted to codeine cough syrup- a medicine that has become a street drug. Three million bottles are are drunk everyday in Nigeria’s North alone, according to a recent Nigerian government report..”
The lawmaker added that the World Health Organisation (WHO) had estimated in 2011, that 64 per cent of antimalarial drugs in the country were found to be counterfeit.

“it is assessed that counterfeit drugs provided approximately $75 billion  in revenue annually to illegal operators and have caused more than 150,000 deaths worldwide.”

“We legislators must also do our part in this war against commercialisation of illegal unregistered food and drugs.”
“Sections 6,7,9 and 13 of the Principal Act were amended in the new bill which the lawmaker said was birthed 25 years ago and had never seen any amendment or reform till date.”
The bill was referred to the House committee on Healthcare Services after it was passed by majority of members in the floor.