Illicit trade worries Poisons Board


Pharmacy, Medicine and Poisons Board has expressed worry over the rise in illicit trade of pharmaceutical products.

The board said such illicit trade was fueling misuse and abuse of Pethidine and Codeine.

Codeine and Pethidine are highly addictive sedatives used to treat mild to moderately severe pain whose supply, possession, distribution and use is controlled by the board through the Dangerous Drugs Act.


Responding to an e-mailed questionnaire in extension to a statement released last week, the board’s registrar, Moses Chisale, said control measures for prescription and dispensing of the products are seemingly failing.

He said changing pharmaceutical market dynamics have encouraged illegal access to cough syrups containing Codeine and Pethidine.

Chisale said the board has not established the volumes of cough syrups diverted into illicit trade.


“The observed increasing trends in abuse and misuse of these products indicate that the control measures for the prescription and dispensing of these products may be failing. The board, therefore, alerts stakeholders on current regulatory requirements for these products,” he said.

Among some of the new regulations, the sale of cough syrups containing Codeine and Pethidine has been limited to 100 milliliters bottle per clients.

In the press release, the board warns that misuse and abuse of Pethidine and Codeine containing cough syrups may contribute to severe health outcomes such as liver damage, respiratory depression and in extreme cases, death.

“Pharmacists and other health professionals are reminded that there are other alternative preparations that do not contain Codeine that can be used as cold and cough remedies,” the statement reads.

World Health Organisation, in its bulletin earlier this year, raised an alarm on illicit drug problem leading to drug overdose deaths among patients and cough syrup users.

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