By Aminat Mohammed

The Federal Government has issued a directive to the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) to cease further issuance of permits for the production and importation of codeine as active pharmaceutical ingredient for cough medications.

The directive was made known by the Minister of Health, Prof Isaac Adewole in a statement on Tuesday in Abuja.

According to the minister, this directive was necessary because of the gross abuse the drug had been subjected to in Nigeria.

In its place, he recommended the use of Dextromethorpan, which is less addictive, in producing cough syrups.

He 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.

“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.

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“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”, the minister said.

Prof Adewole also added that as a way of discouraging youths to shun the drugs, the Federal Government through the 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 campaigns on drug abuse and its adverse effects.