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General News of Wednesday, 25 April 2018

Source: dailyguideafrica.com

War on Tramadol: 6 arrested in Tamale

The crackdown on the sale of unapproved dosage of Tramadol in the country seems to be intensifying, with the Food & Drugs Authority (FDA) and law enforcement agencies cracking the whip on culprits.

The Northern Regional Police Command, through a combined FDA and Pharmacy Council raid in the metropolis, has arrested six persons for trading in Tramadol, a synthetic narcotics drug.

The suspects- Abdul Rafik Yakubu, Abdul Rahaman Hardi, Adam Haruna, Zakaria Musah, Abubakar Nuhu and Sulemana Abdul Fatawu- caught selling the illegal drug, are currently in police custody.

According to the Northern Regional Manager of the Pharmacy Council, Michael Ennim Ameyaw, the raid was necessitated by the high rise of Tramadol abuse in the metropolis.

“Handling restricted medicines without lawful authority is criminal and must be treated as such,” he said.

Information gathered by DAILY GUIDE indicates that most outlets where the drug is sold are unlicensed.

The fight against Tramadol abuse which was started in August last year, according to Mr Ennim, has finally gotten support from the national headquarters of the Pharmacy Council and the Food & Drugs Authority.

Mr Ennim added that the arrest will help intensify the fight and education on the negative effects of the abuse of the drug.

“I appeal to chiefs, politicians and opinion leaders not to come in between the council and its mandate of punishing offenders of the rules and regulations of the council,” he said.



Over 6,000 capsules confiscated

The Western regional office of the FDA has also seized more than 6,000 capsules of Tramadol from licensed chemical stores in the region.

The Regional Head of the FDA, Abu Sumaila, told the Ghana News Agency (GNA) that the drug has been abused in no small way by the youth, manual workers and drivers in recent times mainly because it is accessible at the chemical stores and among drug peddlers.

According to him, the abuse of Tramadol can make one addictive, result in brain damage, epilepsy, excessive sweat and also hallucination.

In Ghana, the 50 to 100 grammes are approved for use, but according to Mr Sumaila, a combination of 120 and 80 grammes were among those seized.

He said within the Sekondi/Takoradi Metropolis, out of the 31 licensed chemical stores visited, 1,060 capsules were retrieved from four stores.

At Wassa Akropong and Enchi, 1,050 capsules were seized from two shops out of the 12 visited.

The FDA boss disclosed that Asankragua recorded the highest number of 4,900, probably because of the mining activities in the area.

“We are in talks with the Association of Chemical Sellers to stop their members from selling such drugs which is contributing to bad health among the youthful population of the country,” he added.



OccupyGhana’s appeal

Meanwhile, pressure group, OccupyGhana, has called on government to urgently take steps to tackle the illegal trade in Tramadol, which according to them, presents a health problem of grave severity.

In a statement, the pressure group mentioned that it behoves the nation to immediately bring a stop to the illegal trade before it becomes an uncontrollable epidemic.

The statement called for a three-pronged approach, including medical, law enforcement and prevention and rehabilitation to end the cancer.

“We ask the Ministry of Health to appoint a group to research the extent of the problem. The group will train doctors to recognize signs of Tramadol addiction and take steps to treat these patients. Consideration could be given to setting up addiction treatment centres,” it said.

The pressure group also asked for the law enforcement agencies to investigate how these drugs are coming in and to take steps to stop the large shipments from India and China.

“The Narcotics Control Board, FDA and Pharmacy Council should ensure that licensed chemical sellers do not sell Tramadol or that it is not sold over the counter. Tramadol should only be obtainable with a prescription from a licensed medical provider,” the statement said.

The group also requested for programmes for pharmacists, doctors, teachers and pastors who would educate the general public about the drug and its addictive potential.

Though not part of the three-pronged approach, OccupyGhana said another option to look at would be petitioning the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) to add Tramadol to the list of opioids it controls.

“The cost of obtaining it for cancer and post-surgical patients will be a much lesser evil than the scourge of rampant Tramadol addiction,” it said.



Niger nationals cautioned

The Nigerian Embassy has also cautioned its nationals from selling pharmaceutical products and traditional pharmacopoeia.

The warning, which was contained in a communiqué from the Niger Embassy in Ghana, is in accordance with a directive by the Food & Drugs Authority (FDA) on the sale of unapproved medicines in the country.

The statement added that the sale of these products without prior authorisation from the Food & Drugs Authority (FDA) is illegal and prohibited.

“Any infringement will be sanctioned in accordance with the law of Ghana,” the statement signed by the Ambassador of Niger to Ghana, Dr Alhousseini Ousmane, said.



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