The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) is seeking the support of the Federal Government to tackle the menace of drug abuse in the country.
NAFDAC Director General, Professor Mojisola Adeyeye, revealed this in a statement personally signed by her on Wednesday.
She disclosed that stakeholders are working with the Minister of Health, as well as the Office of National Security Adviser and the Presidency to develop strategies to mitigate the trend.
Professor Adeyeye decried the rate of abuse of prescription medicines and other psychoactive substances not under international control.
According to her, 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.
In this regard, NAFDAC vowed to continually raise awareness of the public health consequences of drug abuse.
They also promised to promote healthy lifestyles through effective and comprehensive demand reduction initiatives, in accordance with the three UN drug control conventions and national legislation.
The statement read, “The most commonly abused drugs in the country are tramadol and codeine. tramadol is a synthetic opioid analgesic used to treat moderate to severe pain and is the most abused effective medicine among addicts. It has no effects on the respiratory system, but overdose causes arrhythmias, cramps, coma and death.”
“In Nigeria, it is regulated as the 50 and 100mg dosage strengths but very high dosage forms of 200 and 225mg have infiltrated the market. There is also a noticeable increase in smuggling of tramadol capsules. tramadol use disorder is associated with physical withdrawal symptoms and compulsive behaviour.”
“Codeine can be obtained in a compound form in Over-The-Counter painkillers and cough medicines, but consumers often became addicted. The risk of addiction is great and, in many countries, including Nigeria consumers require a prescription for all opioid-based medication.”
“The misuse of codeine products contributes to severe health outcomes including liver damage, stomach ulceration, respiratory depression, coma and death. In Nigeria, all codeine-containing products are locally manufactured and are prescription-only-medicines since 2012, but the reclassification did not stem the trend of abuse partly due to non-adherence to the provisions of prescription,” it added.
NAFDAC identified the lack of due diligence to ensure the integrity of the distribution chain as the cause of unauthorised persons distributing the products to illicit channels.
In a bid to address the social problems and other threats resulting from drug use, the agency stressed the need for extra-territorial enforcement to identify, disrupt and dismantle organised criminal groups operating across the borders.
They also decried over-prescription by health professionals and overconsumption by the public, as well as the lack of collaborative and inter-professional research among stakeholders that could generate the needed data and justify control at the nation’s borders.
NAFDAC also pointed out the common phenomenon of users by-passing the health facilities and turning directly to pharmacies and medicine stores.
They, however, stated their commitment to implementing the recommendations of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGASS) 2016 outcome document on the safe use of controlled medicines for pain and palliative care and others.
The agency emphasised the need to develop early warning systems that look at the emergence and consequences of the non-medical use of narcotics and psychotropic substances.