The health ministry announced the ban after an investigation showed the syrup is being sold on the black market and being used by young Nigerians to get high.
An undercover investigation conducted by Africa Eye – a new TV investigations documentary strand from the British Broadcasting Corporation, BBC, has revealed how leakages in the Nigerian pharmaceutical industry’s regulatory system is aiding the plague of addiction to cough syrup across Nigeria.
The exclusive undercover investigation, co-produced with BBC Pidgin, reveals how highly placed officials of pharmaceutical companies illegally supply codeine syrup products from their factories to drug dealers who in turn sell the dangerously addictive, sweet-tasting mixtures to addicts.
“It’s shocking what we found and how much of an epidemic cough syrup abuse has become in Nigeria. Equally shocking is the sheer size of criminal network involved in the illicit trade,” said Adejuwon Soyinka, Editor of the BBC Pidgin, who carried out the investigation
The federal government’s ban is coming at a time the President of the Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki, has warned that the widespread nature of drug abuse among young Nigerians is a catastrophe waiting to happen.
The Minister of Health, Professor Isaac Adewole, made this known in his office in Abuja on Tuesday, May 1, 2018.
He said that the directive became necessary due to the gross abuse codeine usage has been subjected to in the country, especially in Northern Nigeria.
In its stead, the minister said codeine-containing cough syrups should be replaced with dextromethorphan which is less addictive.
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 in the country, while he has also banned the sales of Codeine-containing cough syrup without prescription across the country.
He noted that NAFDAC had an emergency meeting with the Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Group (PMGMAN) to inform them that there is an embargo on all new applications for registration of codeine-containing cough syrups as well as applications for renewal has been abolished.