Consumer Protection Council on Tuesday warned against consumption of medication containing an opiate, codeine, without medical prescription.
A statement by Mr Babatunde Irukera, Director General of CPC, said codeine is an opiate, and one of many in the opioids family classified as a narcotic substance, although not an illegal drug.
Codeine is largely used as a pain reliever and cough suppressant. As such, it is an active ingredient in some expectorants or cough syrups.
The council said in exercise of the regulatory authority of National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), expectorants/cough syrups containing codeine may not be dispensed as non-prescriptive Over the Counter (OTC) medication.
It added that it is illegal and a violation of law to attempt to purchase as well as dispense any such medication, except exclusively in accordance with prescription by a qualified and legitimate medical practitioner.
“Any possession, delivery or provision of these medications in the absence of a prescription, or legal acquisition but dispensing to a person other than whom it is specifically prescribed for, is a violation of law, constitutes drug abuse, and presents significant medical risks including possible injury, risky behaviour, addiction, and in extreme cases (especially pediatrics), fatality,” CPC said.
“In particular, Codeine is implicated in serious adverse effects when taken with, or contemporaneously with alcohol or carbonated drinks. These methods of mixtures negatively interact and have become a serious and dangerous pattern which pose significant risks of debilitating side effects including respiratory difficulties, nervous system deficiencies and mental impairment.
“Emerging professional medical and regulatory preference is to prohibit prescription of cough medication containing codeine to minors because of its properties and propensity to promote addiction and other exposure to illegal drug use.”
CPC advised that cough medication with codeine should be prescribed, dispensed and administered in an abundance of caution and only in strict compliance with professional medical direction, and in any case not prescribed for, dispensed to, or administered to minors.
“The Council also reminds consumers that violation of law with respect to dispensing, possessing and consuming illegal drugs, or legal drugs illegally is criminal and may subject offenders to apprehension, detention and prosecution, including by National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), and upon conviction, a sentence to a term of imprisonment,” the statement said.