The frontline Non-governmental and human rights body- HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) says it has found out that the outright ban on the production of codeine cough syrup in Nigeria has not stopped the phenomenal abuses of many other medicines by some unruly young persons around the Country just as it has faulted the unwise and harsh decision which must have led to great financial misfortunes for the over 30 legitimate pharmaceutical companies licensed by NAFDAC to produce codeine containing cough syrups as well as widespread unemployment of about 10,000 staffs who were hitherto employed in these firms.
Codeine containing cough syrups have been available in the country for over 40 years and have been used therapeutically to suppress and cure coughs in many patients who have used them according to instructions for use stated by the manufacturers on the packs of these drugs. They are drugs which when used according to specified instructions gives desired outcome and like many other drugs, it’s liable to abuse by people.
HURIWA stated that it deliberately decided not to react to the outright ban of the production of the codeine syrups because it had commissioned researchers to proceed to the streets of major cities and towns to sample scientific and empirical evidences regarding the impacts or otherwise of the ban on the production of Codeine Cough syrups due to the rampant abuses by some misbehaving and misdirected youngsters as portrayed in the British Broadcasting Corporation documentary that led to this uproar but affirmed that after about three weeks of generating and gathering first-hand information and observations, it has come to the conclusion that the decision to hastily ban the production of Codeine Cough syrups was irrational, Panicky, unscientific, unreliable and has not in any way deterred or reduced the rates of drug abuse since the addicts have resulted to procuring other drugs and substances of abuse which will eventually be on the high side and uncontrollable like Codeine.
HURIWA has therefore asked government to have a rethink on these hasty and miscalculated steps by introducing greater regulations of the commercial marketing of prescriptive drugs including Codeine Cough syrups which it has found out to be one of the most effective cough treatment drugs. HURIWA also expects the Government to focus much more on abusers, look for lasting ways of reducing the number of people abusing these drugs rather than bringing their hammer down on certified Pharmaceutical companies which has contributed in many ways to the growth and development of this Country including employing people, contributing to the growth of the economy among many other things.
HURIWA stated thus: “Based on field research and eye witness accounts our team generated during a well-coordinated three week’s data collections, we have found out that contrary to the not so well thought out reasons for the hasty ban of production of cough syrup containing codeine by pharmaceutical companies hitherto producing these Cough syrups by the Federal government based on a report published by the British Broadcasting corporation on abuses of the syrups by youths, we found out that these youths who are hooked up in the habit of abusing these and many other drugs are still getting supplies of other drugs of abuse and indeed this policy of halting the production within Nigeria was not a good decision to have embarked on. The Federal government was wrong to have adopted this regimented decision to stop pharmaceutical companies in the Country hitherto producing Codeine Cough syrups without looking at other much more sophisticated methods of halting the abuses of these useful anti cough syrup which is very popular amongst genuine patients”.
The Federal government didn’t even consider the fact that these over 30 companies banned from producing these drugs may have borrowed credit facilities from banks running into hundreds of millions of US dollars to purchase the NAFDAC approved quantity of codeine raw material for their various companies and may have entered into contractual agreements on repayments and servicing of these debts. How does government intend to help these firms to meet up their financial obligations to their creditors? Will they pay for the legitimately obtained raw materials- codeine which NAFDAC has put on hold? What happens to the genuine patients who prefer Codeine Cough syrups due to their efficacy to cure their medical conditions? Why should government stop the production of Codeine Cough syrups only because some deviant youths in various parts of the country and base on just a one-hour documentary? Would the Government close breweries because many people are consuming high quantity of beer and perhaps committing atrocities in the society as a result of its consumption? Would the Government have closed Tobacco Company as many people are abusing it as well? Would the Government ban some chemicals useful in analysis in laboratories because it is being used to produce explosive by a few hoodlums in the Society? If robberies become so high as they are now, so Buhari’s administration will order the closure of banks to stop the criminality of bank robberies? Or will this government stop the use of computers because cybercrimes have become sophisticated in Nigeria? The stoppage of the production of Codeine Cough syrups is not only unwise but is discriminatory because it has denied those genuine patients in their millions whose body system welcomes the efficacy of the curative solutions they derive legitimately by taking these codeine Cough syrups according to doctor’s prescriptions. The Government of Nigeria should allow for the production of these Codeine Cough syrups but must put strict measures in place to ensure that they are not sold openly but rather prescribed by doctors under strict regulations and supervision by relevant health institutions. The distribution of these medicines by Pharmaceutical industries can also be closely monitored by relevant agencies including NAFDAC, the Pharmacists’ Council of Nigeria among others”.
Nigerian Government should encourage growth of industries in the Country and not kill them with some of their uncalled for decisions which are capable of ruining not just these companies but also the staffs these companies have employed.
It’s never too late for the Federal government to retrace its steps and do the needful by reversing their earlier decisions and look for better ways of tackling the situation at hand.
A stitch they say, saves nine.