Police, BNI charged to take over fight against Tramadol abuse

The fight against the abuse of Tramadol cannot be achieved if security agencies like the police and the Bureau of National Investigation (BNI) are not engaged, a pharmacist has said.

Kwame Sarpong Asiedu, the Director of Pharmacy at Lexden Healthcare in the United Kingdom believes without the help of these two security agencies, the battle cannot be won.

“There needs to be an enforcement of the law. There needs to be an acceptance that although the food and drugs authority is doing its bit, now this is beyond them.

“In all countries that have been targeted, they don’t leave it to their drug regulators to fix the problem because it has criminal connotations,” he said on Joy FM’s news analysis programme, Newsfile.Tramadol, a restricted medication used to treat moderate to moderately severe pain, has become almost “a street drug” for the treatment of a normal pain like a headache, sometimes with approval from health practitioners.

Although the FDA has approved between 50 and 100 milligrams of the medication in Ghana, it has been discovered that the drug is being abused in doses of between 100 and 500 milligrams.

Joy News’ Erastus Asare Donkor has interviewed some persons in Kumasi who have admitted to mixing a dosage of 500mg of the medication with energy drinks and taking it with marijuana.According to them, the combination allows them to do any form of work without being fatigued.

Mr Asideu who brought to light the abuse of the drug, said the abusers feel the way they do because they have gone past the therapeutic window.

He said even when used in prescribed situations the side effect of the drug is worrying.

“Even with people taking the right doses there have been reports of hallucination, jerkiness, suppression of their flight fright stimuli so you get to a point where the person really starts reacting.

“There have been cases where doctors have had to switch patients off Tramadol because of the side effects, he explained.

For him, the development is a national issue and although the Food and Drugs Authority is doing its best, not much can be achieved if security agencies are left out of the fight.

“It is time for national security, the BNI and police to go after these social misfits. It is now a national security issue.”

He also urged the Pharmacy Council to step up its game because some pharmacies in the country are guilty.

“They will deny it but we have got it on tape. They are selling Tramadol indiscriminately without asking any questions and the evidence has been given to the pharmacy council.”