The Federal Government has banned the production of syrups containing codeine in Nigeria amid widespread addiction and abuse of the syrups.
Minister of Health, Professor Isaac Adewole, announced the ban in Abuja on Tuesday, the Assistant Director of Information in the ministry, Mr Olajide Oshundun, said in a statement.
In line with the decision, the Ministry of Health directed the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) to stop further issuance of permits for the importation of codeine as an active pharmaceutical ingredient for cough preparations with immediate effect.
The minister said the directive became necessary due to the gross abuse codeine usage has been subjected to in the country.
Dextromethorphan, which is less addictive, than codeine would now be used for the production of cough syrups in the country.
Professor Adewole also directed the Pharmaceutical Council of Nigeria, (PCN) and NAFDAC to supervise the recall for labelling and audit trailing of all codeine-containing cough syrups in the country, while he has also banned sales of codeine-containing cough syrup without prescription across the country.
Already, the NAFDAC has held an emergency meeting with the Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Group (PMGMAN) to inform them of the development and the embargo on all new applications for registration of codeine-containing cough syrups, according to the statement.
NAFDAC has also 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,” the statement added.
The agency was also ordered to fully carry out its functions among others: to 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.
All agencies under the ministry NAFDAC, PCN, National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), Nursing and Midwifery Council of Nigeria (NMCN), are expected to collaborate for effective implementation of extant acts, regulations, policies, and guidelines on codeine control and usage.
“Furthermore, these agencies shall work together to increase pharmacovigilance around codeine, tramadol and other related substances of abuse,” Adewole said.
Beyond the ban and as a way of discouraging youths to shun the drugs, the Federal Government through 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.