NAFDAC Seeks FG’s Support To Fight Drug Abuse

NAFDAC Seeks FG's Support To Fight Drug Abuse
File photo


The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) is seeking the support of the Federal Government to tackle the menace of drug abuse in the country.

NAFDAC Director General, Professor Mojisola Adeyeye, revealed this in a statement personally signed by her on Wednesday.

She disclosed that stakeholders are working with the Minister of Health, as well as the Office of National Security Adviser and the Presidency to develop strategies to mitigate the trend.

Professor Adeyeye decried the rate of abuse of prescription medicines and other psychoactive substances not under international control.

According to her, the fundamental objective of the drug control conventions is to achieve a balance between ensuring availability for medical and scientific purposes and preventing diversion to illicit use and abuse.

In this regard, NAFDAC vowed to continually raise awareness of the public health consequences of drug abuse.

They also promised to promote healthy lifestyles through effective and comprehensive demand reduction initiatives, in accordance with the three international drug control conventions and national legislation.

The statement read, “The most commonly abused drugs in the country are tramadol and codeine. tramadol is a synthetic opioid analgesic used to treat moderate to severe pain and is the most abused effective medicine among addicts. It has no effects on the respiratory system, but overdose causes arrhythmias, cramps, coma and death.

“In Nigeria, it is regulated as the 50 and 100mg dosage strengths but very high dosage forms of 200 and 225mg have infiltrated the market. There is also a noticeable increase in smuggling of tramadol capsules. tramadol use disorder is associated with physical withdrawal symptoms and compulsive behaviour.”

“Codeine can be obtained in a compound form in Over-The-Counter painkillers and cough medicines, but consumers often became addicted. The risk of addiction is great and, in many countries, including Nigeria consumers require a prescription for all opioid-based medication.

“The misuse of codeine products contributes to severe health outcomes including liver damage, stomach ulceration, respiratory depression, coma and death. In Nigeria, all codeine-containing products are locally manufactured and are prescription-only-medicines since 2012, but the reclassification did not stem the trend of abuse partly due to non-adherence to the provisions of prescription,” it added.

NAFDAC identified the lack of due diligence to ensure the integrity of the distribution chain as the cause of unauthorised persons distributing the products to illicit channels.

In a bid to address the social problems and other threats resulting from drug use, the agency stressed the need for extra-territorial enforcement to identify, disrupt and dismantle organised criminal groups operating across the borders.

They also decried over-prescription by health professionals and overconsumption by the public, as well as the lack of collaborative and inter-professional research among stakeholders that could generate the needed data and justify control at the nation’s borders.

NAFDAC also pointed out the common phenomenon of users by-passing the health facilities and turning directly to pharmacies and medicine stores.

They, however, stated their commitment to implementing the recommendations of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGASS) 2016 outcome document on the safe use of controlled medicines for pain and palliative care and others.

The agency emphasised the need to develop early warning systems that look at the emergence and consequences of the non-medical use of narcotics and psychotropic substances.

FG Bans Production Of Codeine Containing Syrups In Nigeria

Health Minister Suspends Eight Top NHIS Officials
Minister of Health, Professor Isaac Adewole (File photo)


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.