Many states in Northern Nigeria are major markets for two popularly abused drugs –Tramadol and codeine cough syrup.
These states include Plateau, Kano, Adamawa, Sokoto, according to National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) data on drug seizure in 2017.
Worried by the abuse of codeine cough syrup by Nigerian youths, the Federal Government last week directed the National Agency for Food and 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 preparations.
Drug seizure and arrest statistics for 2017 reflected that 309,713kg of drugs was seized in 2017, according to the NBS.
A total of 191,353 kg of Cannabis was also seized in 2017.
This represents 61.8 percent of the total drug seized within the period under review. Tramadol followed closely with 96,136kg seized representing 31 percent of the total drugs seized.
“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,” Minister of Health, Isaac Adewole said while announcing the ban.
In 2017, 8,882.63kg of Tramadol was seized in Kano State.
In this same state, 3,911.23 kg of codeine cough syrup was seized. In Kano State, out of 635 people arrested for drugs in the review period, 625 were male while 10 were female.
In Plateau State, 4,820.02 kg of Tramadol was seized in 2017. Regulatory agencies also seized 4,196.55 kg of codeine cough syrup in Plateau State in 2017. In Plateau State, out of 418 people that were arrested, 391 were male while 27 were female.
Among others States, in Nasarawa, 2,873.88kg of Tramadol was seized; 58 people were arrested, 57 male and 1 female. In Edo State, 919.93kg of was seized; 253 people arrested, 190 male and 63 female.
In Sokoto State, law enforcement agencies last year seized 1,033.49kg of codeine cough syrup and 432.36kg of Tramadol. They arrested 225 people; 9 female and 216 male. Statistics on Tramadol seizure show: Kaduna State (322.37kg); Bauchi State (249.45kg); Borno State (167.58kg);
Gombe State (821.69kg); Jigawa State (253.35kg); and Kebbi State (2,381.04kg), among others.
Before the recent ban, drug makers’ sales shot remarkably as the street price of codeine cough syrup increased to N5, 000. Barely a month ago, drug dealers were selling codeine cough syrup on the street for up to N3, 000 – the dark addictive syrup had turned to gold.
Analysts say law enforcement agencies will need to up their games because the ban on codeine cough syrup (an additive drug) will drive up the price in the black market.
Currently, pharmaceutical sources said about eight known brands produced and made good sales from rising consumption of codeine cough syrup, but interestingly only few are now in the limelight.
“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 Minister said.
Four pharmaceutical companies were raided after revelation into the role of cough syrup containing codeine in an addiction epidemic that has befallen Africa’s biggest economy. The firms are in Lagos, Ilorin and Kano, according to the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control.
On Friday May 4, 2018, boxes of drugs, including Tramadol, the popularly abused prescribed-only pain relief, being smuggled into Nigeria from Togo were confiscated by officials of the Food and Drugs Authority in the Volta Region, Ghana. Concealed in empty boxes of a popular noodles brand, the drugs were being smuggled through an unapproved route at a point referred to as ‘Kpoglo border’ near Ho, in Ghana.
According to NBS data, 10,290 arrests were made in 2017, of which 9,626 were male while 664 were female; 1,605 or 15.6percent were convicted in 2017 while 1,167 or 11.3percent were on counseling; 92,687 kg of exhibits were destroyed while 317 hectares of farmland were also destroyed.
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