The Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) has decried the increasing abuse of Tramadol, a pain reliever, among the youth and called for concerted effort by stakeholders to curb the trend.
The FDA said its routine educational programmes and campaigns at public places such as schools, markets and bus terminals, showed that there was high abuse of the Tramadol aka Tramol among students, drivers and their mates and market women.
Mrs Olivia A. Boateng, the Head of Tobacco and Substances Abuse Department of FDA, made this known at a training programme on Pharmaceutical Crime, Intelligence Gathering and Investigation in Accra. The six-day programme, brought together the media, judges, the Ghana Revenue Authority- Customs Division, and security personnel from the Economic and Organised Crime Office, the Ghana Police Service, and Bureau of National Investigations. Mrs Boateng explained that Tramadol was a man-made (synthetic) narcotic analgesic (pain reliever) and it was usually prescribed to patients suffering from moderate to severe pain. According to her preparations containing tramadol are classified as Prescription Only Medicines (POM) and the approved dosage strength for tramadol by Ghana FDA was 50mg and 100mg. However, Mrs Boateng said, the strength dosage used by the public was 120mg, 200mg and 225mg, adding that those strength of the dosage of the drug was not approved by the Authority. “The sad aspect of this is that most of those drugs with high dosage are not registered by the FDA and often time have expired,” she said. According to her, the medicinal benefits of tramadol could quickly become harmful when it was not taken as prescribed, adding; “excess amounts, regular use or overuse can cause side effects, many of which can be dangerous and may affect the brain in ways very similar to illegal drugs.” Mrs Boateng said tramadol abuse could include agitation, headache, dizziness, drowsiness, tired feeling, constipation, diarrhoea, nausea and vomiting. She further mentioned hallucinations, itching, sweating, flushing and fever, fainting, seizure (convulsions) infertility, impotence, sexual problems, organ damage and subsequently death. Mrs Boateng said tramadol was being used to enhance sexual drive and to prolong ejaculation. She said tramadol could produce euphoria comparable to heroin, adding that when others used tramadol it acted as a pain reliever and it drifted them to deep restful sleep. Mrs Boateng said the FDA was going to step up educational campaigns to emphasise on the dangers of the abuse of tramadol as well as source for funding to carry out surveys in order to make informed regulatory policy decisions. “We are also going to strengthen surveillance at the point of entry to discourage the influx of these drugs and increase stakeholder collaboration with the National Road Safety Commission and the media among others,” she added.