Reps propose N2m fine, jail term for codeine infractions

The House of Representatives on Tuesday proposed a N2 million fine and a two-year jail term for corporate offenders of the ban on Tramadol and Codeine.

Individual offenders, according to the proposal, will be liable to N500, 000 fine and two years imprisonment or both on conviction.

A Bill on it also stipulates that in the case of a corporate body, all the directors, managers, partners and trustees would be guilty of an offence and would be punished as if they had committed the offence.

The Bill, sponsored by Rep. Betty Apiafi (Rivers-PDP) seeks to amend the Food, Drugs and Related Products (Registration) Act Cap. F33 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.

The bill also seeks to review the penalties and confer jurisdiction on High Court of the State to try offences under the Act.

Leading debate on the bill, Apiafi said “In Nigeria, between January and December, 2015, 1,044 people were admitted for treatment in 11 centres, as part of the Nigeria Epidemiological Network of Drug Use (NENDU) reporting system.

“And, 28.3 per cent of the patients had an opiate addiction and the opiates were mainly prescription medicines: Tramadol (71 per cent as 1st most frequently used substance and specified). Codeine (15.1 per cent) and Pentazocine (9.9 per cent), Heroine and Morphine represented only 3.3 per cent of the opiates declared,” she said.

She added that since 2015, Codeine had 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 drank everyday in Nigeria’s North alone, according to a recent Nigerian government report.”

The lawmakers also explained that the World Health Organisation (WHO) estimated in 2011, that 64 per cent of anti-malaria drugs in the country were found to be counterfeit.

“It is assessed that counterfeit drugs provided approximately 75 billion dollars in revenue annually to illegal operators and have caused more than 150,000 deaths worldwide,” Apiafi said.

The bill was unanimously adopted by members when it was put to a voice vote by the Speaker, Mr Yakubu Dogara.

It was referred to the Committee on Health Care Services for further action.

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