-Tasks Stakeholders on Improved Collaboration to Prevent Illegal Distribution
Worried by the upsurge in the illegal importation and diversion of prescription medicines and other psychoactive substances not under international control, which has hitherto led to increase in drug abuse and misuse, the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) has highlighted the dangers inherent in the abuse of Tramadol and Codeine-containing medicines in particular.
The Agency, which expressed her deep concern for public health safety and the resolution of social problems engendered by drug abuse and misuse, identified Tramadol and Codeine, as the most commonly abused drugs in the country, and which are usually brought into the country through different illicit channels.
The information contained in a press statement signed by the Director General, NAFDAC, noted the problems associated with the abuse of Tramadol- a synthetic opioid analgesic, to include: arrhythmias, cramps, coma and death, while the misuse of codeine products contributes to severe health outcomes such as : liver damage, stomach ulceration, respiratory depression, coma and death.
According to the Agency, most members of the public that engage in the addiction of these products are unaware of the dangerous effects of their actions, and which could lead to death, if not curb immediately.
The statement reads in part: “The fundamental objective of the drug control conventions is to achieve a balance between ensuring availability for medical and scientific purposes and preventing diversion to illicit use and abuse. The Agency will therefore continue to raise awareness of the public health consequences of drug abuse while promoting healthy lifestyles through effective and comprehensive demand reduction initiatives in accordance with the three international drug control conventions and national legislation.
“Controlled medicines offer a simple, cost-effective solution to many health problems provided they are available, of the right quality, safety and efficacy; and are rationally. The Commission on Narcotic Drugs expects Member States to improve access to controlled medicines for medical and scientific purposes by appropriately addressing existing barriers in this regard, including reviewing the regulatory and administrative mechanism to ensure availability and access to controlled medicines.
“The Director of NAFDAC’s Narcotics and Controlled Substances, Dr. Musa Umar emphasized that the misuse of controlled medicines appears to result from both their diversion from licit channels and distribution of illicitly manufactured products”.
A six-month report of the Agency further revealed an expansion in the illegal market for Tramadol as the data compiled by NAFDAC’s Ports Inspection Director, Prof. Samson Adebayo, from January to June 2018, showed that 29 X 40’ containers were intercepted at the Apapa Port all containing unregulated 200/225mg Tramadol capsules.
Also at the Onne Port 9 X40’ containers containing the similar formulations were also intercepted and handed over to the Agency by the Nigeria Customs Service. In another development, 180 cartons of Tramadol 225mg were intercepted by the Nigeria Customs Service at the SAHCOL Shed of the Murtala Mohammed Airport, Lagos.
“The consignment has since been handed over to NDLEA. The Onne Port, Tincan Island Port and all the land borders are not approved as entry points for Pharmaceuticals into the country and the Agency is worried about the clearance of Pharmaceuticals through unapproved entry points.
“The modes of concealment and importation of illicit Pharmaceuticals into the country remain complicated and serious challenge to effective control at the national, regional and international level.
“These large amounts of Tramadol were destined for illicit markets but were seized. Hence the need for improved cooperation, collaboration, coordination and information sharing between and amongst regulatory and enforcement agencies in real time to detect and prevent diversion of controlled medicines to illicit markets and abuse”, the document stated.