Nigeria’s Federal Ministry of Health has directed the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) to immediately cease the importation of codeine.
The ban is specifically in respect of codeine as an active pharmaceutical ingredient for cough preparations. The directive is meant to curb an addiction crisis exposed by the BBC in a recent undercover film.
The BBC Pidgin and its Africa eye team put together the documentary titled ‘Sweet sweet codeine,’ highlighting the harmful effects of cough syrup addiction sweeping through especially northern Nigeria.
Whiles telling the story of how young people continue to suffer the addiction, they also exposed how a top pharmaceutical firm was complicit in selling codeine-based cough syrups to especially young people.
Social media activists in Africa’s most populous nation have for months now been sounding alarm bells over the situation but the BBC film brought hardcore evidence forcing the authorities to take action.
Wife of the president, Aisha Buhari, waded into the conversation after sharing the BBC’s six-minute clip on her Instagram page.
She wrote: “I have noted with alarm the exponential rise of drug abuse in our country, especially in the north. As a parent, I am deeply saddened by this fact, it is important that we interrupt the trend and encourage our children to stay drug-free.
“I call on all security agencies, lawmakers, judiciary, drug manufacturers, civil society, regulators, teachers, parents, neighbours and YOU to take this as a personal war and halt the menace.”