Doris Obinna, Lagos
The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) has shut down three pharmaceutical firms – Emzor Pharmaceuticals Ltd., Peace Standard Pharmaceutical Ltd., and Bioraj Pharmaceutical Ltd. – implicated in the cough syrup controversy following a BBC documentary exposing codeine abuse in Nigeria.
Disclosing this in a statement, NAFDAC Director General Prof Mojisola Adeyeye said the decision was taken following findings from investigations and inspections at the respective companies.
“It has become necessary to shut down all product lines of the three companies. The respective companies in Ilorin and Lagos, Peace Standard Pharmaceutical Limited. Plots 3 & 8, Adewole Industrial Estate, Lubcon Avenue, Ilorin, Kwara State; Bioraj Pharmaceutical Limited. No 405 Kaima Road, Ilorin, Kwara State and Emzor Pharmaceuticals Ind. Ltd., Ajao Estate, Lagos.
According to her, this is to allow for a full and comprehensive investigation.
The three companies remain closed.
She noted however that the reopening of the drug companies will depend on the level of cooperation that is shown during the comprehensive investigation.
Noting stakeholders involved in the production and regulation of codeine containing products, which she listed as Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Group of Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (PMG- MAN), Pharmacists Council of Nigeria (PCN), Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN), National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) and Association of Community Pharmacists of Nigeria (ACPN), she urged them to hold an urgent meeting as quickly as possible.
It is worthy noting that before the BBC documentary was aired, the DG had called for an emergency meeting with the PMG-MAN Executive and other stakeholders to discuss critical issues relating to codeine containing cough syrup together with other controlled substances.
At the meeting, some of the major issues that characterise the current emerging substance abuse issue were identified as; the current weakness in the monitoring of production and distribution in the supply of medicines containing narcotic substances such as codeine.
The insufficient presence of NAFDAC at various entry ports into Nigeria, and the attendant non-regulation of such products among others, has led to significant levels of smuggling, along with the importation of considerable amounts of products with the potential for abuse.