The Food and Drugs Authority [FDA], says it has intensified surveillance in the country in a bid to curb the smuggling of Tramadol, a prescription only drug into the country.
According to the FDA, its investigation shows that most of the drug comes into the country through unapproved routes making it difficult for them to track its final destination.
“Our investigations revealed that there are people, who were sourcing it from unapproved routes not from the pharmacy and hospitals. We have intensified monitoring at the ports of entry, trying to curb it through the unauthorized routes,” Head of Substance Abuse at FDA, Olivia Boateng said on the Citi Breakfast Show on Tuesday.
Tramadol is a pain relief drug, which according to medical experts, functions like heroin and can cause psychotic problems as well as damage vital organs in the human body if abused.
Recent surveys have shown that the drug is being abused by some youth as well as some market women, drivers and in some cases students.
Olivia complained that although the drug is highly regulated, the country is inundated with influx of the product which she said comes through illegal means.
She said her outfit has collaborated with the various security agencies especially those who operate along the country’s borders to block the smugglers from bringing it into the country.
“Tramadol is a restricted and a controlled drug. It has been registered as a prescription only medicine, so you can only get it at the hospital and pharmacy on a valid prescription. We have registered 50mg and 100mg indicated for managing moderate and severe pain. In our laws now, it is considered a controlled drug. They come in through Kotoka and Tema. We have also put in monitoring mechanism. We even have local manufacturers.”
“What we found when we heard of the isolated cases is that… they are those that come through the unauthorized means, drug peddling mainly. We arrested people between 14 and 16 years who were peddling it in our open market with other aphrodisiacs and other substances including tramadol,” she added.
Olivia Boateng said her outfit has also beefed up public education after reports emerged that the drug is being abused.
“We’ve done a lot of training for our security men who man these ports. We are doing a lot of collaboration with other stakeholders. We are doing collaboration with the IGP and his mean, DVLA among other stakeholders. So we really have upped our game especially on the education and the swoop to make sure that we curb the supply and the illicit channel,” she added.