Nigeria government on Tuesday places restrictions on use and importation of codeine to curtail widespread abuse of the drug, especially by youths across the country.

He also directed NAFDAC to stop the issuance of permit for the importation of codeine as active pharmaceutical ingredient for cough preparations.

The Minister who said the directive became necessary as youths in the country have increasingly abused codeine also directed that Codeine containing cough syrups should be replaced with dextromethorphan which is less addictive. Codeine

He further 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 has also banned sales of Codeine containing cough syrup without prescription across the country.

“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 has been abolished.

“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,’ Adewole stated.

“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,” the Minister  said.

He added that the ministry of health is planning to 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 a national campaign against drug abuse to help discourage youth from consuming the codeine syrup.

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