Codeine, a drug used in certain cough syrups, is to come under the label of narcotics to stop its abuse in a new drug distribution guideline to be released soon, health minister Onyebuchi Chukwu has said.
Speaking during talks with the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria in Abuja, Chukwu said the health ministry was "taking drastic steps to regulate the drug," stressing it will no longer be sold over the counter.
"We are in the process of inaugurating a National Drug Advisory Team and launching a National Drug Distribution Guidelines on February 7, 2013," Chukwu added.
Medicines containing the substance, especially cough syrups, have been implicated in frequent abuse among mostly young people, especially in the northern part of the country, according to the ministry.
PSN has welcomed the initiation of guidelines for drug distribution throughout the country. PSN president, Olumide Akintayo said implementing the guideline would sanitize the drug distribution system and eliminate the unwholesome activities of dealers and peddlers of fake and counterfeit drugs.
PSN has also called for its regulatory body, the Pharmaceutical Council of Nigeria, to be reconstituted to enable it represent pharmacists better on the boards of federal health institutions.
The ministry had earlier announced plans to integrate traditional medicine practice into the curriculum of medical schools, allowing them to study medical sciences to support their knowledge of herbal medicine and help them diagnose better.