The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration & Control (NAFDAC) has shut down three major pharmaceutical companies for their alleged involvement in the codeine syrup abuse as it continues investigations into the codeine-based syrup epidemic currently ravaging youth in Nigeria.
The companies shut are Emzor Pharmaceuticals Ind. Ltd., Peace Standard Pharmaceutical Limited, and Bioraj Pharmaceutical Limited.
Codeine-based syrup is used in treatment of cough, but when abused could lead to harmful and deadly addiction.
In a statement by NAFDAC on Monday, Director General of the Agency, Prof. Mojisola Adeyeye said that the clampdown was due to the companies’ inability to provide required documents for NAFDAC officials during the inspection of the facilities at Ilorin and Lagos.
The statement said, “Due to insufficient evidence gathered and apparent resistance to provide needed documents during inspection on May 2, 2018 at the respective companies in Ilorin and Lagos, respectively, it has become necessary to shut down all product lines of the three companies.
The companies are the Peace Standard Pharmaceutical ltd. at Plots 3 & 8, Adewole Industrial Estate, Lubcon Avenue, Ilorin, Kwara State and Bioraj Pharmaceutical Limited. No 405 Kaima Road, Ilorin, Kwara State. Also shut down was the Emzor Pharmaceuticals Ind. Ltd., Ajao Estate, Lagos. This is to allow for a full and comprehensive investigation; the three companies therefore remain closed,’’.
“The DG constituted a task force to be made up of NAFDAC directors in charge of registration and regulatory affairs; narcotics and controlled substances; and drug evaluation and research,”
“On May 2 and 3, a team of nine NAFDAC officers were sent to carry out investigational inspection at the companies that are licensed to manufacture codeine-containing syrup, and which were implicated in a BBC documentary. The team comprised of two from Drug and Evaluation Research – DER and seven from Investigation & Enforcement – I&E) and ten mobile police officers. The focus of the assignment was to access and monitor from records the utilization, sales and effective distribution of the codeine containing cough syrups to the end users. Meanwhile, meeting of the stakeholders mentioned above is being planned while the shut down and full investigations continue.
“The reopening of the manufacturing companies will depend on the level of cooperation that is shown during the comprehensive investigation,’’.
It could be recalled that a recent BBC documentary exposed the addiction of some Nigerians to codeine and the complicity of staff of some pharmaceutical companies.
The widespread addiction led the Ministry of Health to ban the production and importation of cough syrup with codeine in the country.
The ban has been commended by many Nigerians including the Senate.