John Ameh, Abuja
A bill seeking a N2m fine and a jail term of two years for persons who contravene the ban placed on Tramadol and Codeine by the Federal Government passed the second reading at the House of Representatives on Tuesday.
The bill was sponsored by the Chairman, House Committee on Health Institutions, Mrs. Betty Apiafi.
The bill, which is an amendment bill, seeks to amend the Food, Drugs and Related Products (Registration, etc) Act Cap. F33 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.
It seeks to review the penalties and confer jurisdiction on the high court of a state to try offences under the Act.
Apiafi spoke more on the bill as she led the debate. “In Nigeria, between January and December 2015, a total of 1,044 patients were admitted for treatment in the 11 treatment centres that are currently part of the Nigeria Epidemiological Network of Drug Use Reporting System.
“In the report, 28.3 per cent of the patients had an opiate addiction and the opiates were mainly prescription medicine; Tramadol (71 per cent as the first most frequently used substance and specified); Codeine, (15.1 per cent); and Pentazocine (9.9 per cent); while Heroine and Morphine represented only 3.3 per cent of the opiates declared,” Apiafi said.
The House proposed to amend Sections 6, 7, 9 and 13 of the Principal Act to update it and raise the penalties for offenders.
Apiafi also spoke about how fast Tramadol and Codeine abuse was spreading in the country.
“Since 2015, Codeine has nearly overtaken Tramadol as the most abused opiate in Nigeria.
“Thousands of young people in Nigeria are addicted to Codeine cough syrup, a medicine that has become a street drug.
“Three million bottles are drunk every day in Nigeria’s north alone, according to a recent Nigerian government report.”
The bill passed second reading in a unanimous voice vote at the session, which was presided over by the Speaker, Mr. Yakubu Dogara.