The Association of Community Pharmacists of Nigeria in Lagos State has said that the unrestricted access to codeine and others like tramadol is what is responsible for the rising spate of drug abuse in the country.
Giving the position in Lagos at a briefing with journalists following a recent ban on codeine by the Federal Government, the organisation said that without urgent and necessary measures taken, more lives could be destroyed as a result of the problem.
The ACPN however, said that banning the items wasn’t the solution as it would deny those whose health conditions require such substances the chance to do so.
Chairman of the organisation in Lagos, Pharm. Olabanji Benedict, while calling for more collaboration between government and pharmacists in Nigeria, said that codeine was still being sold in the open market because of government’s failure to recall it after announcing the ban.
He said, “The problem of codeine cough syrup abuse has been with us for a long time even though it got to a dangerous dimension in the last five years with the proliferation of these products without a corresponding audit trail to track them.
“However, we feel that the decision to ban codeine cough syrup by the Federal Government is not the right way to address the problem of its abuse. This will only lead to an increase in the price of the item since the old stock are still being sold secretly in the open market as it had not been recalled. Also, this will deny some citizens who genuinely need them to cater for their health the chance to do so.
“As far as we are concerned, the best way to tackle the problem of drug abuse is to dismantle all open markets where these drugs are being sold. The Federal Government must urgently constitute the board of the Pharmacists Council of Nigeria, while the National Agency for Food Drug Administration and Control must stop issuing permits and registrations to all sorts of companies.
“There should also be routine monitoring by the PCN coupled with constant sensitisation campaigns all across the country. This is the most effective way we believe this problem can be tackled.”