At least 2.4 million bottles of cough syrup containing codeine have been recalled by the Federal Ministry of Health.
This step by the ministry was carried out after a recent audit of the substance carried out by National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC).
According to a statement by Mrs Boade Akinola, Director Media and Public Relations of the ministry on Sunday in Abuja, the recall demonstrated the Federal Government’s resolve to stem the abuse of codeine and other substances in Nigeria.
Akinola said the minister had recently received the final report of the 22-man Stakeholders Committee set up by the Ministry to address the worrisome menace of codeine abuse in Nigeria.
She quoted the Minister of Health Prof Isaac Adewole as saying that the audit trail and subsequent recall of the substance was part of recommendations of Stakeholders Committee set by the ministry to address codeine abuse in Nigeria.
The minister said the committee members were drafted from a broad spectrum of the health sector in collaboration with relevant agencies as part of Pharmacovigilance and renewed effort to monitor drug distribution channels and sanitise the system.
The Minister recalled that the committee was an offshoot of the Press release issued by the Ministry on the temporary ban of Codeine production and distribution.
He said the committee has Director-General of NAFDAC, Prof. Christianah Adeyeye as the chairman. Other members include Muhammad Abdullahi, Chairman of National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), Elijah Mohamed, the Registrar of Pharmacists Council of Nigeria; Mr Moshood Lawal, Director, Food and Drugs Services, Federal Ministry of Health; Ahmed Yakasai, President, Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN) among others.
On May 1, Federal Government banned the production and importation of codeine as active pharmaceutical ingredient for cough syrup preparations to check substance abuse among Nigerians.
The minister directed NAFDAC to ban the issuance of permits for the importation of codeine as active pharmaceutical ingredient for cough preparations.
He also directed the Pharmaceutical Council of Nigeria, (PCN) and NAFDAC to supervise the recall for labelling and audit trailing of all codeine containing cough syrups nationwide.
The federal government had also banned the sale of cough syrup containing codeine without prescription.
In this regard, the minister said PCN had been directed to continue enforcement activities on pharmacies, patent and proprietary medicine vendors’ shops and outlets throughout the country.
He also directed NAFDAC to carry out its functions in compliance with the new directives.
The minister said cough syrups containing codeine should be replaced with dextromethorphan which is less addictive.
Dextromethorphan is a cough suppressant used to treat coughing. It is also a drug of the morphinan class with sedative, dissociative, and stimulant properties.