Nigerian authorities have re-opened three pharmaceutical companies shut down for producing cough syrup containing forbidden codeine.
Emzor, Peace Standard and Bioraj pharmaceuticals were shut down on May 7 for failure to provide documents during an inspection on May 2-3 to prove that they complied with directives against use of codeine.
The Nigerian government banned the use of codeine in cough syrup to check abuse of drugs in parts of the country.
Youth and women, mostly from the north, have been consuming large volumes of such cough syrups as intoxicant.
After a meeting
However, the government has now directed the National Food And Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) to lift the shutdown order.
NAFDAC Director-General Mojisola Adeyeye gave the order on Saturday after a meeting with the companies and the directorates of the Investigation and Enforcement (I&E), the Drug Evaluation Research (DER) and the Narcotics and Controlled Substances (NCS).
According to NAFDAC, the production of codeine syrup is to be stopped immediately while investigations continued.
“Therefore, the hold placed on the active pharmaceutical ingredient and the already made codeine syrups stands. NAFDAC will monitor the compliance.
“The companies have been charged with administrative fees that are commensurate with the respective violations,” it said in a the statement.
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NAFDAC said that it would hold a stakeholders meeting on the codeine crisis in a few days to develop a road map for the supply chain distribution and the future of codeine syrup manufacturing.
Some 19 northern state governments were generally suspicious of cough syrups containing codeine, as people abused the content, a kind of opiate like cocaine or heroin.
Users get high on it, leading to many cases of drug addiction.
According to reports, many users actually bought cough syrups as an alternative to the more expensive drugs such as heroin (diamorphine).
Codeine is also used to treat pain and diarrhoea and is internationally not a banned drug.
Meanwhile, the National Drugs Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) has arrested a lorry loaded with 24,000 bottles of cough syrups containing codeine in Funtua area of Katsina State.
NDLEA State Commandant Hajiya Maryam Gambo Sani, said that six people were arrested in connection with the drug cargo.
Those arrested, she said, were the driver of the vehicle, his assistant, two conductors and the manager of SUNGLOW EQUITY, who was suspected to be owner of the drugs and the salesman of the company.