Codeine Abuse: All eyes on us even when others were mentioned – Emzor


Emzor Pharmaceuticals Industrial Limited, one of the companies implicated in the illegal manufacture and distribution of codeine-contained syrup, has said the company was made “the key selling point” of the exposé.

‘Sweet sweet codeine’, a documentary which aired on BBC, revealed how some corrupt officials of big pharmaceutical companies conspire with distributors to make the cough syrup available in the open market.

During a press conference in Lagos yesterday, an Executive Director at the company, Uzoma Ezeoke, said: “Unfortunately, we found ourselves as a key selling point for that documentary. All eyes were on us even when others were mentioned.”

After the documentary was aired, the Federal Government banned the production and importation of codeine in the country.

Emzor and two other companies, Peace Standard Pharmaceutical Limited and Bioraj Pharmaceutical Limited, were shut down by the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC).

Following the lift of the shutdown order, the Chief Executive Officer of the company, Stella Okoli, said it became necessary to interact with the media because of the events of the past few weeks.

“We have been inundated with requests. I think that we are strengthening democracy. We are deeply touched to know that our hopes, our future, the youth of this country are having issues with drug abuse or prescription drugs,” she said.

“My heart reaches out to the family that are affected. This is a social problem. We shall all work together to overcome this problem. All of us must join our hands in harmony, in peace, in love, in friendship to solve the problem.

“As you know, Emzor Pharmaceutical Industries is a major player in the pharmaceutical industry for more than 40 years providing high quality but affordable medicine to all Nigerians.

“You have rewarded us with your confidence. You have rewarded us with your comments. You are actually those that help us to advance the quality of our products.”

…Peace, Bioraj keep sealed lips over ban lift

By Adebayo Olodan

The management of Peace Standard Pharmaceuticals and BIORAJ Pharmaceuticals in Ilorin have kept sealed lips following the reopening of their companies which were earlier shut down by the National Agency for Food Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) last week in a bid to stop production and distribution of codeine in the country.

Also shut by NAFDAC alongside the two Ilorin-based industries is Emzor Pharmaceuticals Industry Limited in Lagos.

When contacted on the phone last night, the Chief Executive Officer of Peace Standard Pharmaceuticals, Mr Samuel Akinlaja said, “I cannot comment on the issue at the moment.”

He however promised to get back to our reporter but his call and text message was still being awaited as at the time of filing this report.

Similarly, a management staff of BIORAJ Pharmaceuticals, Ilorin, identified as Tajudeen Bioraj confirmed the lift of NAFDAC ban. The Bioraj official however said he was not in a position to comment further on the development.

“If you want to get details on the issue, you will have to come to our office,” he challenged our reporter.

 Recall that the decision to shut down the pharmaceutical companies was taken in a swift reaction to the BBC documentary on codeine abuse in Nigeria. The three aforesaid pharmaceutical companies, who were alleged to have been implicated in the investigation, had all their product lines banned.

The Director-General of the agency, Prof. Mojisola Adeyeye, in a statement last Monday said that the decision was taken following findings from investigations and inspections at the affected companies. She said the closure was due to the companies’ inability to provide required documents for NAFDAC officials during inspection of the facilities in Ilorin and Lagos.

The statement said, “Due to insufficient evidence gathered and apparent resistance to provide needed documents during our inspection on May 2, 2018 at the respective companies in Ilorin and Lagos, it has become necessary to shut down all the product lines of the companies.

“The companies are the Peace Standard Pharmaceuticals Ltd at Plots 3 & 8, Adewole Industrial Estate, Lubcon Avenue, Ilorin, Kwara State and Bioraj Pharmaceutical Limited, No 405 Kaiama Road, Ilorin, Kwara State.

“Also, shut down was the Emzor Pharmaceuticals Ind. Ltd, Ajao Estate, Lagos.

“This is to allow for a full and comprehensive investigation; the three companies therefore remained closed, the statement said, adding that the reopening of the manufacturing companies will depend on the level of cooperation shown during the comprehensive investigation.

However in another statement issued on Saturday, the regulatory agency renounced the shutdown order on the three pharmaceutical companies.

Codeine-based syrup is used in treatment of cough but when abused, could lead to harmful and deadly addiction.

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