By Lucky Isibor
A pharmacist has called on the federal government to formulate a national drug prescription policy for the country, lamenting that all drugs, even paracetamol are poison.
Pharm. (Dr) Felix Ndiukwu who is the chairman of Edo state chapter of Association of Community Pharmacists of Nigeria made the call while delivering a lecture titled “Ban on the use of codeine and other harmful substances and it’s implications on society at at the first Matthew Odion Alli memorial lecture organized by the Merit Chapel of the Nigeria Union of Journalists, NUJ, Edo state Council Benin City held at the Press Centre, on Thursday.
Dr. Ndiukwu adviced that to ensure the right drug has been prescribed and for correct administration, the Pharmacist must be consulted always adding that the prescription should contain the name and telephone number of the doctor, the prescriber.
“But the problem here is the absence of a standard prescription policy information like the prescribers name, and contacts, age, weight e.t.c are on the prescription to enable the pharmacist relate with the doctor when any drug therapy problem is discovered.”
Dr. Ndiukwu painted a very frightening picture of drug abuse and addiction in Nigeria. Quoting report of the National Epidemiological Network on Drug use, he said 1,044 patients were admitted in 2015 for treatment in the country at 11 selected centres. The patients were hooked on Tramadol but after 2015, more cases of codeine addiction were observed.
“The case deteriorated rapidly as over three million bottles were consumed daily in the north alone.”
Hence the Federal Government on May 1, 2018 banned the importation, manufacture and sale of codeine containing cough syrups after a documentary aired by a public broadcaster; the BBC on April 30, 2018. However, the ban has its positives and negatives, Dr. Ndiukwu pointed out. He consequently recommended: active audit of all controlled drugs; eradication of open markets for drugs cross the country; political will to implement measures that will restrict access to medications to those who truly need it especially the National Drug Distribution Guidelines that have been in the pipeline for about five years now.
Other recommendations include: Pharmacists should be involved at all levels of drug production and distribution to the point of handing over to the final patient/consumer. Also, National prescription policy, and empowerment of regulatory bodies like the PCN, NAFDAC, Task Force, and NDLEA.
Pharm. Ndiukwu had earlier explained that “Psychoactive drugs are chemical substances that affect the brain functioning, causing changes in behaviour, perception, mood and consciousness.” The inaugural lecture was in commemoration of Odion Alli, who passed on one year ago. Alli was the publisher of ‘Merit’ a foremost Benin based community news tabloid. The event which was used to revive the annual ‘Merit Media Awards’ was organized by the Merit Chapel of the Nigeria Union of Journalists, (NUJ), Edo State Chapter.