Federal Government Bans Codeine
The federal government has banned the production and importation of codeine in the country. Isaac Adewole, minister of health, gave the directive to the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) on Tuesday, a day after a BBC documentary exposed the abuse of the syrup.
The BBC had reported “codeine addiction epidemic” in some parts of the country and how young Nigerians are using the substance to get high.
In the report, the broadcast service had also indicted Emzor Pharmaceuticals of its alleged role in the sale of the substance — leading to the company announcing a suspension of its distribution.
Adewale said the ban was necessitated by the high abuse of codeine in the country. He also directed NAFDAC to immediately stop further issuance of permits for the importation of the substance and instead, should be replaced with dextromethorphan which is less addictive.
The minister also banned the sales of codeine containing cough syrup without prescription across the country, even as he 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.
He said the Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Group (PMGMAN) had also been informed of the embargo on all new applications for registration of such syrups containing cough syrups as well as applications for renewal has been abolished.
After the BBC reported that its executive was discovered to have been involved in the sale of syrups containing codeine in the ‘black market’, Emzor Pharmaceuticals announced a suspension on the distribution of such syrups.
In a statement issued on Tuesday, the company said the distribution had been suspended pending the outcome of a “full and thorough internal investigation” on the issue. It, however, denied that it is involved in its direct sales to members of the public.
Codeine is a substance used in treating pain and cough. It is imported into Nigeria. Syrups containing it are said to be produced by at least 20 companies in the country.