National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) has expressed concern over abuse of prescription medicines and other psychoactive substances.
The Director General of NAFDAC, Professor Moji Adeyeye, made the agency’s position known in a statement in Abuja on Thursday.
Adeyeye stated that the fundamental objective of drug control conventions was to achieve balance between ensuring availability for medical and scientific purposes and preventing diversion to illicit use and abuse.
She noted that NAFDAC would continue to raise awareness on consequences of drug abuse and promote healthy lifestyles.
According to her, such will be done through effective and comprehensive demand reduction initiatives in accordance with the three international drug control conventions and national legislation.
She added that “controlled medicines offer simple, cost-effective solution to many health problems provided they are available, they are of the right quality, safety and efficacy and are rationally administered. The Commission on Narcotic Drugs expects member states to improve access to controlled medicines for medical and scientific purposes by appropriately addressing existing barriers in this regard. The commission recommends review of the regulatory and administrative mechanism to ensure availability and access to controlled medicines.”
She stated that the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) through the NGA V16 Project, Response to Drugs and Related Organised Crime in Nigeria had assisted NAFDAC in developing data collection mechanisms for the estimation of national needs, as well as development of documents.
According to her, the move will improve the administrative framework for drug control and, in capacity building and training of regulators and health care professionals for improved access to controlled medicines.
“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 the most abused effective medicine among addicts. It has no effect on the respiratory system but overdose can cause arrhythmias, cramps, coma and death. In Nigeria, it is regulated as the 50mg and 100mg dosage strengths but very high dosage forms of 200 and 225mg have infiltrated markets. Also, there is noticeable increase in smuggling of Tramadol capsules. Tramadol use disorder is associated with physical withdrawal symptoms and compulsive behaviour.”
The NAFDAC boss stated that the lack of due diligence to ensure the integrity of the distribution chain had led to unauthorised distributors distributing the products to illicit channels and to traders with little or no knowledge of public health.
The director general reiterated the agency’s determination to implementing the recommendations of the UN General Assembly (UNGASS) 2016 outcome document on safe use of controlled medicines for pain and palliative care.
According to Adeyeye, it is important to develop early warning systems that look at the emergence and consequences of non-medical use of narcotics and psychotropic substances.
She emphasised the need to support and strengthen the regulatory framework that would ensure best clinical practices and rational use of controlled medicines.
She added that stakeholders had started working with Minister of Health, Office of National Security Adviser and the Presidency to develop strategies to mitigate the abuse of drugs in the country.