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The Federal Government has ordered a halt to 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 via a statement by the Assistant Director of Information in the ministry, Olajide Oshundun.

In line with the decision, the Minister has 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.

According to the statement, the directive became necessary due to the gross abuse codeine usage has been subjected to in the country.

Alternatively, Dextromethorphan, which is less addictive, than codeine would now be used for the production of cough syrups in the country.

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.

The statement added that 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,” it stated.

“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.”

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