FG bans Codeine as active ingredient for cough syrup
By Silas Onuoha
The Federal Ministry of Health ,FMOH, has directed the National Agency for Food, 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 syrup preparations.
The Minister of Health, Professor Isaac Adewole, made this known in his office in Abuja, today, stressing that the directive becomes imperative due to gross abuse that Codeine usage has been subjected to in the country.
According to him, “Codeine containing cough syrups should be replaced with dextromethorphan, which is less addictive.”
The Minister further directed the Pharmacists Council of Nigeria,PCN, and NAFDAC to supervise the recall for labeling and audit trailing of all Codeine containing cough syrup in the country, while he also banned sales of Codeine containing cough syrup without prescription across the country.
The Minister disclosed that NAFDAC had an emergency meeting with the Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Group ,PMGMAN, to inform them that there is an embargo on all new applications for registration of Codeine containing cough syrups and applications for renewal have been abolished.
The PCN has further been directed to continue enforcement activities on pharmacies, patent and Proprietary Medicine Vendor’s shops and outlets throughout Nigeria.
In the same vein, NAFDAC has been directed to fully carry out its functions among others to regulate and control the manufacturing, distribution and sales of drugs, including inspection at points of entry of drugs, drugs products and food for compliance with the new directive.
The Minister explained that the FMOH 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.
Accordingly, these agencies will work in synergy to increase vigilance around Codeine, tramadol and other related substances of abuse’
Moreso, NAFDAC has developed IEC materials that will be used in an already planned national campaign against drug abuse, an awareness programme that include Young Pharmacists Group of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria. This campaign will soon kick off in Kano and Lagos States.
Thus, as a way of discouraging youths to shun the drugs, the Federal Government through FMOH will 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 the national campaign against drug abuse in the country.
The FMOH shall ensure that drug treatment intervention for victims of substances abuse will be undertaken across the spectrum of health care delivery system in the whole country”
He went on, “The Civil Society Organisations will be strengthened to deliver effective sensitisation, prevention, treatment and rehabilitation services”.
He recalled that in view of the serious public health concerns drug abuse poses to Nigerians, a working group, which comprised of experts from various Ministries, Agencies of government, including regulatory agencies, development partners and associations were constituted in January this year and tagged ,’Codeine Control and other related Matters Working Group ,CCRWG.
CCRWG was formally inaugurated on January 23, 2018, with clear Terms of Reference of developing key recommendations and strategies to address the menace of Codeine, tramadol and other related substances in Nigeria. The Group submitted its interim report on April 12, 2018 and recommended short, medium and long-term measures for implementation in a memorandum submitted to the Minister today, May 1, 2018.
Conclusively, Prof. Adewole restated the commitment of government to ensure full implementation of the National Drug Distribution Guideline ,NDDG by January 1, 2019 and closure of all open drug markets penultimate the implementation date of the NDDG, which is December 31, 2018.
However, it is a common knowledge that easy access to Codeine, tramadol and other substances of abuse is promoted by the chaotic drug distribution system.