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NAFDAC Moves To Check Abuse Of Narcotics, Controlled Substances

The agency said authorities must scale up their activities to stay ahead of drug traffickers.

NAFDAC Director-General, Prof. Mojisola Adeyeye

The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) has said it is committed to ensuring the availability of narcotics and controlled substances for medical and scientific purposes while preventing diversion to illicit use in Nigeria.

A statement signed by NAFDAC’s Resident Media Consultant, Sayo Akintola, said the move came just as the Provost of the Medical School, University of Lagos, Prof. Adewale Oke argued that some surgeons and other medical professionals involved in the surgical operation of patients tend to be addicted to narcotic drugs used as painkillers for patients after surgery.

Speaking at the launch of the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) annual report availability supplement and precursor report 2023 by the agency in Lagos, the Director General of NAFDAC, Prof. Mojisola Adeyeye said due to the addictive potential of many of the narcotic drugs, there was a need to balance the access and control of these substances.

She admitted that narcotics and psychotropic substances are indispensable in the management of pains and other medical conditions.

She said that INCB reports the world drug situation yearly to inform governments of countries that are party to the International Conventions on drug control efforts.

According to her, the annual report for the year 2023 has a special focus on the role of the Internet, including social media, in drug trafficking and use.

“It explores the challenges and opportunities for drug control, prevention, and treatment, in the era of the Internet, with a specific look at the evolving landscape of online drug trafficking,” she said.

The NAFDAC boss who was represented by the Director, Laboratory Services (Food), Dr Charles Nwachukwu, however, stressed that competent national authorities must scale up their activities, and monitor online advertisement and sales of controlled substances to stay ahead of traffickers.

The report further analysed the global availability of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances for medical and scientific purposes. It highlighted the persistent disparities in access to medicines for the treatment of pain.

The precursors report x-rays issues related to trafficking in synthetic drugs including non-medical synthetic opioids, cocaine and their precursors which represent a growing threat to public health.

The DG reiterated some of the measures already put in place by NAFDAC to ensure availability and prevent the diversion of controlled medicines to illegal use.

She also said that the agency had commenced the issuance of an electronic permit to import controlled substances since 2017 with the intention to link the process to the international Import and Export Authorisation system (I2ES)Pre-Export Notification (PEN) Online System.

“This platform has been of great utility in monitoring international trade in controlled medicines and precursor chemicals. Its use is to confirm the legitimacy of transactions of proposed imports. Monitoring the integrity of the distribution chain.

“The agency is scaling up its monitoring and surveillance of the distribution chain by verification of sales, documentation review and increasing the frequency of warehouse and facility inspection,” she added.

Adeyeye further said the implementation started with controlled substances in January 2024.

On his part,  Provost of the Medical School, University of Lagos, Oke, said that in clinical practices, several drugs and derivatives of narcotics, particularly opium and their derivatives are used in pain management, most especially in some critical conditions that involve excruciating pains.

 Oke, who was represented by a professor of Psychiatry at the College of Medicine, Olatunji Aina, disclosed that not only the members of the public indulge in abuse of medical narcotics.

He lamented that doctors and other professionals that have the drugs in custody at the hospitals overtime tend to be addicted to the drugs they administer to the patients.

‘’Even amongst our colleagues in the health practice, especially those that work in the theatre, including professionals that are directly in charge of these drugs, some of them overtime tend to be addicted to the drugs,’’ he said.

Onyebuchi Ezigbo

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