The Brong Ahafo Regional Manager of the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA), Matthew Gyan Nkum has said that his outfit is winning the fight against the abuse of Tramadol and other drugs in the region.

Speaking at a stakeholder workshop on tobacco control and the abuse of Tramadol and syrups containing codeine, Mr. Nkum said the FDA’s efforts have ensured that the pharmacies and other approved medicine retailers are adhering to regulations of not selling the drugs without prescriptions.

According to him, the Authority has conducted regular unscheduled visits to the pharmacies in the region, sometimes undercover, and realized that many of these vendors were sticking to the rules on the sale of these drugs.

“Gradually, we are winning the fight, but we still have to do more. I can say on authority that if you go to the approved premises where drugs are being sold – over the counter medicine shops and pharmacies – it will be difficult to get it if you don’t have a prescription, you won’t even get it.

“We’ve tried, we’ve gone undercover, moving from pharmacy to pharmacy. Without prescriptions, it’ll be difficult [to get the drugs]. That tells us that we are winning the fight.”

He however bemoaned the lack of support from the public who are hesitant in giving up the locations of the drug users for arrest and prosecution despite the fact that many of them live in their communities.

Mr. Nkum at the workshop which was attended by security agencies, health personnel and journalists, said they are working with various security agencies to root out the illegal peddlers.

 “What we are hearing is that it’s now being sold at the ‘wee’ bases, the ghettos and that’s why we are collaborating with the police, National Security and the BNI to also assist us.

People also don’t give us information. You get to a community or a town and nobody is willing to tell you where those products are.”

Tramadol menace

There is a growing trend of Tramadol abuse among Ghanaian youth in some parts of the country.

Recent surveys have shown the drug is also used among market women, drivers, and in some cases, students.

The abuse of Tramadol, a pain relief drug, according to medical experts, functions like heroin and can cause psychotic problems as well as damage vital organs in the human body.