Brain/Doctor/health worker /medical services unilag medical provost
Some surgeons and medical professionals tend to be addicted to narcotics.

UNILAG Medical Provost: Doctors, Professionals Addicted To Illicit Drugs

Professor David Adewale Anthonio Oke, Provost of the College of Medicine, University of Lagos (CMUL UNILAG), has expressed concern that some surgeons and other medical professionals who perform surgical operations tend to be addicted to narcotic drugs used to relieve pain after surgery.

Oke who stated this at the launch of the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) annual report availability supplement and precursor report 2023 by NAFDAC in Lagos, said not only members of the public indulge in the abuse of medical narcotics.

“Even amongst our colleagues in the health practice, especially those that work in the theater including professionals that are directly in charge of these drugs, some of them over time tend to be addicted to the drugs,’’ he said, describing it as a big public health problem that only a collaboration between the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) and National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) could nip in the bud.

Oke, who was represented by a professor of Psychiatry at the College of Medicine, University of Lagos, Prof Olatunji Aina, explained that some medical conditions like sickle cell disease crisis, orthopedic cases, particularly fracture cases and in the management of cancer, would warrant giving some of these narcotics to the patients to relieve them of severe pain.

He averred that severe pain is one of the symptoms in most cases of cancer when the tumour is exerting pressure on a certain part of the body, adding that in post-surgery, quite a number of these drugs are used in the management of pain after surgery.

According to him, the dilemma of the physician is when the patient now becomes addicted, stressing that it is very important to know at what point a patient no longer requires analgesics and has become addicted.

In some cases, he said sometimes “When you think the clinical situation has improved and would not warrant the demand for analgesics, such patients still demand the drugs.”

“I am very happy about the control of these medicines by NAFDAC because it’s one of the commonest problems we have in psychiatry, particularly patients that are addicted to the controlled medicines and injections,’’ he said.

Oke however underscored the aptness of the occasion, given the fact that in clinical practices, several drugs and derivatives of narcotics, particularly opium and their derivatives are used in pain management, most especially in some critical conditions that involve excruciating pains.

The director-general of NAFDAC, Prof Mojisola Adeyeye has reiterated the agency’s commitment to ensuring the availability of narcotics and controlled substances for medical and scientific purposes while preventing diversion to illicit use in Nigeria.

Adeyeye admitted that narcotics and psychotropic substances are indispensable in the management of pains and other medical conditions. However, due to the addictive potential of many of them, she noted that there is a need to balance the access and control of these substances, adding that INCB therefore reports the world drug situation yearly to inform governments of countries that are party to the International Conventions on drug control efforts.

According to her, the annual report for the year 2023 has a special focus on the role of the internet, including social media, in drug trafficking and use. It explores the challenges and opportunities for drug control, prevention, and treatment, in the era of the internet, with a specific look at the evolving landscape of online drug trafficking.

The NAFDAC boss who was represented by the director of laboratory services (Food), NAFDAC, Charles Nwachukwu, however, stressed that competent national authorities must scale up their activities, and monitor online advertisement and sales of controlled substances to stay ahead of traffickers.

The report further analyses the global availability of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances for medical and scientific purposes. It highlights the persistent disparities in access to medicines for the treatment of pain. The precursors report x-rays issues related to trafficking in synthetic drugs including non-medical synthetic opioids, cocaine and their precursors which represent a growing threat to public health.

The DG reiterated some of the measures already put in place by NAFDAC to ensure availability and prevent the diversion of controlled medicines to illegal use, while disclosing that the agency has commenced the issuance of an electronic permit to import controlled substances since 2017 with the intention to link this process to the international Import and Export Authorization System (I2ES), among others.

However, she acknowledged the collaborative efforts and cooperation of sister agencies like the Nigeria Customs Service, NDLEA and Nigeria Police, who have all been of tremendous help to the agency.