Smarting from the harrowing effect of the date-rape drug otherwise called Rohypnol which was used to rape and rob late Cynthia Osokogu last year July 22,the Federal Government yesterday 'limited and restricted' the distribution of the drug.
The measure is to ensure that the access to the drug is controlled and can be monitored. Cynthia was murdered by a Facebook friend and his accomplices in Lagos, after she was drugged with Rohypnol.
Director General of National Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Dr Paul Orhii, announced the decision to curb the use of Flunitrazepam, registered by Roche Nigeria Limited as Rohypnol, at a news conference in Abuja.
Another brand of the product with this generic name affected by the restriction is Swinol by Swiss Pharma Nigeria Ltd.
Orhii listed adverse reactions of the drug to include paradoxical reactions and anterograde amnesia which cause events that occurred while under its influence completely forgotten.
He said Flunitrazepam was documented globally to be linked to a high risk of abuse and misuse, including its implication for date rape (drug-facilitated sexual assault.)
Noting that until the incident that claimed the life of Miss Osukogu, there had not been any such report in Nigeria, Orhii disclosed that NAFDAC took a number of steps on receipt of the information.
Some of the steps include making the drug a Prescription Only medicine, the distribution of Flunitrazepam will be limited and restricted to determined outlets and dispensed only on the prescription of doctors, while mandatory quarterly reports on distribution and use of the drug must be submitted to the agency by marketing authorisation holders (MAH).
In addition, Orhii said it would ensure implementation of the Risk Management Plan by the MAH while post-market safety surveillance of the product will be further strengthened.
The NAFDAC boss said public enlightenment campaign on the dangers of abuse of the medicine would be intensified and stringent enforcement by relevant government agencies ensured.
He named several countries where the drug had been restricted in varying degrees, including the United Kingdom, Denmark, Netherlands, Norway, and the Russian Federation where it is banned, while in the United States where it is strictly controlled.
"I wish to appeal to members of the public, particularly young ladies, to be wary of association with criminally-minded individuals who might use the drug to take undue advantage of them."