Although the abuse of Tramadol in the Upper West region is on a decline due its reclassification as a ‘controlled prescription only’ medicine, the Upper West Regional Pharmacy Council has expressed some disquiet about the growing abuse of other drugs.
The Upper West Regional Manager of the Pharmacy Council, Lateef Agyei-Wiredu speaking with Radio Ghana on the sidelines a sensitization forum said the abuse of drugs like Penicillin V also known as “Osheekro”, Ciprofloxacin and Diazepam also known as Valium presents a major challenge to the pharmaceutical sector.
The sensitization forum was organized by Pharmaceutical Sciences Students Association of Ghana (PHARM-SSAG), Wa Polytechnic Branch as part of its Annual Week Celebration at the T.I Ahmadiyya Senior High School at Charia in the Upper West Region.
Mr. Agyei-Wiredu explained that “as an institution, we put a lot of strategies on the ground to pick information and through that we realized that these medicines [Penicillin V, Ciprofloxacin and Diazepam] are commonly abused. We hear that any small complain, be it stomach ache or any other ailment, the locals would resort to Penicillin V.” The Regional Manager of the Pharmacy Council said even more worrying is the complete disregard for correct doses for treatment of diseases.
Touching on the use of Ciprofloxacin also known as Cipro, Mr. Agyei-Wiredu said it had become the go-to medicine for people with diahorea and other non-infectious stomach aches.
He said if the abuse continues, the disease-causing bacteria become resistant to the drugs citing the abuse of chloroquine as an example. “We used to take chloroquine for malaria, but people abused it so now it does not work again. Now we had to design another drug to fight malaria,” he said.
He shared similar sentiments about the abuse of Diazepam. Mr. Agyei-Wiredu said although the above mentioned drugs had been classified as Class A and B drugs which mean they should be sold only by Pharmacy, some unscrupulous individuals had found ways of circumventing the system to sell the drugs at unauthorized places.
He said the Council is working with its enforcement partners to ensure that such persons are prosecuted.
The Regional Manager of the Pharmacy Council advised the public to always insist on seeing the pharmacist or licensed chemical seller before drugs are dispensed.
He said this would ensure that patients are given the right drugs with instructions on the right dosage to prevent further medical complications.
The Deputy Upper West Regional Commander of the Narcotics Control Board (NACOB) Charles Kanew noted that drug and substance abuse is gaining grounds among the youth.
He said his outfit has embarked on a sensitization drive to ensure that people understand the legal and health implications of drugs abuse.
The President of the Pharmaceutical Sciences Students Association of Ghana (PHARM-SSAG), Wa Polytechnic Branch, Jonathan Bowan said it was necessary for the association to organize sensitization forums at various second cycle institutions in order to drum home the need for rational drug use among the youth.
Mr. Bowan was hopeful that the students would then transfer the knowledge they gained to others.
Story by Mark Smith