Federal government has banned the importation of codeine which has become a diet for some young Nigerians.
According to Minister of Health, Professor Isaac Adewole, the directive became imperative on the back of abuse of codeine by young Nigerians.
The National Agency for Food, Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) and the Pharmaceutical Council of Nigeria (PCN) will now supervise the recall for labelling and audit trailing of all codeine containing cough syrups in the country.
NAFDAC and PCN will also enforce the ban on sale of codeine without prescription across the country.
In a statement sent to Pulse, Adewole said: “We 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.
“NAFDAC 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.
“The Pharmacists Council of Nigeria (PCN) was also directed to continue enforcement activities on Pharmacies, Patent and Proprietary Medicine Vendor’s Shops and outlets throughout the country.
“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.
“Furthermore, 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.”
Codeine is an opiate, classified as a narcotic substance which is largely used as a pain reliever and cough suppressant.
Even though it is not an illegal drug, codeine, which comes in tablet and syrup form, has been largely abused for years by youths in Nigeria.
A recent BBC undercover report also fingered a pharmaceutical company in the increasing codeine abuse among the youth demography Nigeria.