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Prof. Isaac Adewole, Health Minister

Drug expert worries over emerging Codeine black market

Prof. Isaac Adewole, Health Minister

A drug expert has said that the recent ban on Codeine and allied cough drugs by the Federal Government has the potential to create a black market that could worsen the existing bad situation with users becoming more desperate.

Dr. Felix Ndiukwu, a pharmacist who chairs the Association of Community Pharmacists in Edo state who was speaking in Benin city said with the ban those who need the drug will now be unable have it and this may force them into a worse situation.

“Today in Nigeria thousands of youths are addicted to codeine containing cough syrup which has turned into a street drug. The case deteriorated rapidly as over 3-million bottles were consumed daily in the North alone”.

He however listed some of the implications of the ban on societal health to include reduced access and possible reduced indulgence with consequent decrease in abuse and decrease in the incidence of related diseases like hormonal imbalances in addition to infections from squalid conditions usually associated with addicts.

” Codeine-containing cough syrups to some extent provided a viable alternative to other addictive substances like cannabis, cocaine  etc because it cannot be smoked and does not have any smell that will attract attention. It was readily available and well-packaged,” he pointed out.

He argued that even the suggested replacement dextromethophan is a also a drug of abuse though comparatively with a lower propensity for addiction.

The  pharmacist said,  “all drugs are poison. The pharmacist is the drug expert for all drug needs”, adding that ” to effect desired changes in the future, there is need for a rethink of existing strategies to include foreign media”, in the campaign against drug abuse.

He then suggested an active audit of all controlled drugs in the country, eradication of open markets and involvement of pharmacists at all levels of drug production and distribution to the point of the final consumer.

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