Prof. Oluwatoyin Odeku the Chairman of the Codeine Control and Other Related Matters Working Group (CCRWG), has raised concerns over the increasing use and abuse of codeine and other controlled medicines in many parts of the country.
Odeku disclosed in an interview, that the abuse of the substance cut across all ages and social strata.
“The problem is going deeper into the society by the day. There are reports of drug abuse among secondary school pupils and students in tertiary institutions. The use of codeine-containing cough syrup has increased even among married women.”
She stated that many users take the drug to gain relief from their problems, users include married women.
Odeku stated the drug was easy to become addicted to, “A young man addicted to codeine consumes up to six bottles of the substance contained in a cough syrup every day. When he realises that it is not enough to achieve his desired state of euphoria, he starts making a cocktail with spirits and other prescription drugs.
“Most abusers of drugs do not think of the negative impact on their bodies. All drugs are poisons. Drug misuse can completely alter the normal physiological functions of the body and it takes more than 48 hours for some drugs to be eliminated from the body.”
Odeku stated the CCRWG would collaborate with other agencies to fight the problem posed by codeine abuse in the society, stating that they would adopt an aggressive public enlightenment strategy on campuses to warn Nigerian youths on the dangers associated with drug abuse.
In response to a question of how the group plan to monitor the supply of the drug in the country, she said,
“The working group actually consists of regulatory agencies and relevant stakeholders that are involved in drug manufacture, distribution and regulation.
“Part of the terms of reference is to look at the supply chain and come up with recommendations on how the drug supply and distribution systems can be managed to properly control the sale of controlled substances. It will also involve the design of pharmacy screening, monitoring and surveillance systems especially at the level of dispensing to drug users.
“We are still working on the strategies that will be adopted. We have to look at the problem holistically and come up with our recommendations. The Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, has given us six weeks to come up with an interim report. That is what we are still doing.”