Workers in the chemical and non-metallic sector on Thursday appealed to the Federal Government against blanket ban of codeine to save the nation about 23,000 jobs.
Babatunde Olatunji, the President of the National Union of Chemical, Footwear, Rubber, Leather and Non-Metallic Products Employees, made the plea while answering questions from journalists in Lagos.
Olatunji decried the impact the ban would have on job creation and urged the Federal Government to find a way of controlling the use of codeine rather than an outright ban.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that Federal Government had in May directed the National Agency for Food, Drug Administration and Control to stop further issuance of permits for the importation of codeine.
The Federal Government said that NAFDAC should stop it as active pharmaceutical ingredient for cough preparations with immediate effect in response to the gross abuse of codeine usage in the country.
Olatunji said that the ban on codeine could lead to about 23,000 workers losing their jobs in the industry as many companies manufacturing cough and pain relief drugs could be forced to close down.
He said that instead of the blanket ban, government should adopt a system in which prescription of the drug would be strictly adhered to.
According to him, this will prevent closure of many pharmaceutical companies in the country and the attendant job losses.
He said: “Codeine is an analgesic which is similar to those of morphine but it is much less potent as an analgesic and has only mild sedative effects.
“It is also used in the treatment of cough, diarrhea as well as other chronic conditions such as arthritis and migraine.’’
The labour leader said it was unfortunate that some criminally minded people were using the product as addictive substance.
He said: “This can lead to downsizing and many of the workers will be thrown into the labour market.
“This defeats one of the cardinal policies of job creation and job security by the President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.’’
Olatunji urged government to strengthen health agencies such as NAFDAC, Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria and Pharmacists Council of Nigeria to ensure strict adherence to prescription of drugs before being sold or administer to any person.