The Pharmacists Council of Nigeria says it will constitute Codeine Control and Other Related Matters Working Group to sensitise the public on the dangers inherent in codeine consumption.
Elijah Mohammed, the Registrar of the Council, disclosed this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria on Sunday in Abuja.
NAN reports that there has been increasing cases of codeine syrup abuse by mostly youths, with the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, contending with raiding and arresting dealers of the illicit drug business in the country.
Mohammed specifically said the group, which would consist of regulatory bodies and relevant stakeholders, would assist in the implementation of a communication strategy in the pharmacies and the patent and proprietary medicine vendors’ shops in various communities.
The registrar frowned at the large number of Nigerians that are already addicted to some of these medicines damming the consequence.
According to him, the group will aid in enlightening the society on the dangers associated with the abuse of preparations containing codeine and other related drugs.
Mohammed said: “The strategy will also involve pharmacy screening, monitoring and surveillance and how those addicted can get assistance and be rehabilitated,
“Codeine is an opioid drug similar to morphine and has been approved and accessed over the counter in low doses for relieving patients of symptoms associated with dry cough.
“The codeine in such preparation, usually in smaller doses, serves as a cough suppressant and relieves pain associated with the stress of coughing.
“However, due to its inherent properties when used in high doses over a long period it has been associated with dependence and powerful addictive propensity especially when used for recreational purpose.”
Mohammed identified the side effects of codeine to include euphoria, apathy, drowsiness, false sense of belonging among others.
He further added that the addict could withstand pains of various degrees and commit crime which in normal circumstances such individuals would not get involved in.
According to him, on the demand side, there is unhindered access to the preparations by the public due to sudden increase in the number of unregulated vendors selling these products all over the country with more impact on Nigerians in northern part.
Mohammed urged manufacturers, importers and distributors of these preparations to display more sense of ethical and moral responsibilities in the production, supply and distribution of these products since there was no proven evidence of cough epidemic in the country.
He noted that the council was currently working with technical groups of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria and other relevant stakeholders to institute programs to be driven by CCRWG to help addicts overcome the challenges of addiction.