By Chioma Obinna
THE Association of Community Pharmacists of Nigeria, ACPN, Lagos State chapter says the outright ban placed on codeine- containing syrups by the Federal Government, would only push up the acquisition of the products since the old available stock would now be sold secretly by charlatans.
The Association said implementation of prescription policy in the country remains the panacea to drug abuse.
Speaking in Lagos, the Chairman, Lagos State ACPN, Pharm. Olabanji Benedict Obideyi said the ban cannot achieve much but would deny some citizens access to medications that are needed to cater for their health as not everyone using these medications abuses it.
“Should we say because people drive recklessly and have auto accidents, vehicles should be banned? Certainly not! This is what the government has done. Codeine-containing syrups are not hazardous as the entire news revolving round it and its outright ban suggest.”
Further, he called for immediate closure of all open drug markets, reconstitution of the Pharmacists Council of Nigeria, PCN, Board as well as restructuring of the chaotic drug distribution in the country.
Obideyi said immediate dismantling of all open drug markets, across the country, is the immediate panacea to the menace of substance abuse, adding that the Federal Government should be decisive in implementing the Drug Distribution Policy, rather than delaying the implementation. “NAFDAC, the sole agency of government charged with issuing permit, authorisation and registration of medicine, should stop issuing permits and registration to the endless number of companies applying to manufacture the abused products, while those already granted authorisation should be regularly monitored to ensure they are not exceeding the production limits approved for them.”
On her part, immediate past chairman of Lagos ACPN, Pharm. Abiola Paul-Ozieh, said government should be held responsible for the continued abuse of pharmaceuticals, saying that unrestricted access to the drugs are ingredients that fuel abuse.
He regretted that the National Drug Distribution Guidelines, NDDG, that would have corrected the chaotic drug distribution system while bringing about easy recall of defected products, remained the root cause of drug abuse in Nigeria.
Also speaking, Pharm. Aminu Abdulsalam reiterated that the Federal Government should not have just banned the product suddenly as every ban should follow a process or procedure. According to him, since it takes almost one year to get a licence for manufacturing these drugs or importing them, it should also take a little time to effect a ban on the products.
He said he would have expected the Minister of Health to place a suspension first on importation and production of the products, then, call for an audit so that they can be sure of what is still in circulation. He explained that some people would have had these products coming into the country and that these people, as well as those that already have these products in stock, would have suffered economic loss.
Speaking, Pharm. Bolanle Adeniran, chairman, Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria, Lagos branch and Pharm. Bola Oyawole, past president, stated that the ban was not a solution to the problem on ground, calling for prescription policy implementation.
“The nation’s drug industry has been neglected for decades by the government and was made worse by appointment of the wrong person into the position of the Director-General, NAFDAC by the last administration, a situation they said, led to charlatans and hawkers taking advantage of the lapse to carry out illicit trading in medicines.