By Felicia Imohimi
Following the abuse and retailing of drugs with codeine without doctor’s prescription, the Pharmacists Council of Nigeria (PCN) has increased inspection, monitoring and supportive supervision activities in all registered premises in the country.
Mr Elijah Mohammed Registrar of the council who revealed this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Friday in Abuja said the essence was to tackle the menace of quacks and challenges of drug abuse.
Mohammed said the measure was sequel to the directive by the Minister of Health to the council and other regulatory agencies to supervise the recall of codeine containing cough syrup nationwide.
The Registrar further said the council would strengthen its ongoing enforcement activities to pharmacies and Patent and Proprietary Medicines Vendors’ Shops (PPMVs) to ensure that all unregistered premises both in public and private sector are closed down.
Mohammed who commended the efforts of the Federal Government in its quest to rid the society of codeine, described its directive to regulatory bodies to recall the substances as a laudable initiative.
He emphasised that the safety concerns around the use and misuse of codeine is assuming a frightening dimension in some parts of the country.
Codeine according to him is an opioid drug similar to morphine and has been approved accessed over the counter in low doses for relieving patients of symptoms associated with dry cough.
Mohammed identified other measures to be adopted by the council to curb the menace to include development of information, education and communication materials in form of flyers and posters on drug abuse as a means of promoting desired positive behaviour in community.
This he noted would be channeled through community pharmacies.
According to him, this is also a public health approach aimed at changing or reinforcing health related behaviour in relation to codeine containing preparations, tramadol and other related substances of abuse.
“The measure to be adopted will also involve the design of pharmacy screening, monitoring and surveillance and how those addicted can get assistance with the various rehabilitation centres across the country.
“PCN will also strengthen the inventory and product tracking systems at all levels of practice both in public and private sectors as well strengthen the use of electronic and paper documentations of controlled drugs with the use of Form K after dispensing in public and private sectors,’’ he noted.
The registrar described recent ban of codeine containing syrups by Minister of Health as a welcome development and a good starting point for those yet to key into the war against abuse of the substance.
NAN reports that that the Minister of Health Prof. Isaac Adewole had on Tuesday banned the production, importation of codeine containing syrup.
Adewole had also directed the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and (NAFDAC) to ban issuance of permits for the importation of the substance as active pharmaceutical ingredient for cough preparation.
He further directed PCN and NAFDAC to supervise the recall for labelling and audit trailing of all codeine containing cough syrups nationwide and as well banned the sale of codeine containing cough syrup without prescription.
“The directive became necessary due to the gross abuse of codeine in the country.
“In this regard, I directed PCN to continue enforcement activities on pharmacies, patent and proprietary medicine vendors’ shops and outlets throughout the country and NAFDAC should as well carry out its functions in compliance with the new directives.
“Cough syrups containing codeine should be replaced with dextromethorphan which is less addictive.
“Dextromethorphan is a cough suppressant used to treat cough, it is also a drug of the morphinan class with sedative, dissociative, and stimulant properties,’’ Adewole said.
Adewole however assured of the ministry’s collaboration with regulatory agencies to ensure effective implementation of extant laws, regulations, policies and guidelines on codeine control and usage.
He identified the regulatory agencies to include NAFDAC, PCN, National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), Nursing and Midwifery Council of Nigeria (NMCN).
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