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Codeine Cough Syrup Is Killing A Nigerian Generation

Sad but true.

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In the year 2015 alone, 1,044 Nigerians were admitted to treatment centers for drug use. Those centers – 11 altogether – are part of the National Epidemiological Network on Drug Use (NENDU) reporting system. The results those centers produced on those patients were astonishing, especially when it came to findings about a typical household item – cough syrup.

Of the 1,044 patients admitted through NENDU, 28.3% of them had opiate addictions. The drugs were mostly prescription medications: tramadol, codeine, and pentazocine. Heroine and morphine surprisingly were not widely used, representing only 3.3% of the opiates consumed by patients.

While tramadol is the most frequently used and specified substance, codeine has nearly surpassed those numbers since 2015. Perhaps the reason is due to codeine cough syrup – an addiction with which thousands of young Nigerians are currently struggling. Sold on the streets, the drug is fairly easy to acquire. According to a Nigerian government report, nearly 3 million bottles of syrup are drunk every day in northern Nigeria.

As of today, the BBC has launched an investigative documentary detailing the drug epidemic sweeping Nigeria. This specific episode of the series (Africa Eye) is the product of 5 months of undercover investigation into the world of illegal drug dealing, cough syrup addiction, and corruption within pharmaceutical companies.

Ruona Meyer, BBC Pidgin journalist, braved danger to expose both the secrets and criminals behind such a crisis. She even has a personal connection to the epidemic – her brother has dealt with addiction to cough syrup.

Further, the episode reveals executives within Nigeria’s “Big Pharma” companies who smuggle their product into the waiting hands of drug dealers. Sold for the same price as a soda, the sweet-tasting drug is easily dealt. What’s more, these execs are knowingly passing the drug into the hands of naïve kids who don’t know anything more than chasing a codeine high.

Take a look at the trailer below:

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The entire Africa Eye series will bring up to 20 in-depth investigations from across Africa to TV screens. Stay tuned for edge-of-your-seat stories, breaking news, and eye-opening reveals.

Want to learn more about the substandard drugs circulating around Africa and elsewhere? Click here.

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