INVESTIGATIONS INTO THE EXTENT OF USE AND ABUSE OF TRAMADOL IN THE ASHANTI REGION
The Ashanti Regional Office of the Food and Drug Authority (FDA) in collaboration with the Pharmacy Council has closed down three (3) chemical shops, after conducting a series of Post Market Surveillance (PMS) activities in seven (7) Districts within its jurisdiction to investigate the illegal distribution and sale of Tramadol; and also the extent to which the drug is being abused in the region.
The three chemical shops, William Adjei Over the Counter Shop, Emmanuel Mensah Over the Counter Shop and Prince Kwadwo Boakye Over the Counter Shop were closed down for selling Tramadol, unregistered medicines such as aphrodisiacs and other restricted medicines.
Tramadol is a prescription-only-medicine (POM) a man-made (synthetic) narcotic pain reliever (analgesic) that is used to treat moderate to severe pain. It works on the nervous system and brain to reduce the feeling of pain.
The proliferation and abuse of Tramadol which are usually in higher doses (120mg, 200mg, 225mg and 250mg) has become a major national concern and the FDA is resolved within its mandate to ensure an eventual eradication of this menace which has a wide reaching negative effect on public health.
The PMS team therefore conducted the surveillance activity in a total of forty one (41) Shops within the jurisdiction. The forty one (41) shops comprised of thirty two (32) Pharmacy Shops and Nine (9) Over the Counter Medicine Shops (OTCMS). The Districts within which the PMS was conducted included the Sekyere South, Offinso, Offinso North, Afigya Kwabre, Adansi South, Adansi North and Amansie East.
The team set out, among others, to verify the extent to which Tramadol was being sold by Over the Counter Medicines Shops (which they are not permitted to sell). The exercise was also to find out how easily consumers could get access to Tramadol without prescription in the pharmacies. The team also wanted to identify the source of the products.
Some of the dangers of abusing and using high doses of Tramadol include headache, dizziness, drowsiness, tired feeling, constipation, diarrhoea, nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, feeling nervous or anxious and itching. The others are sweating, flushing (warmth, redness, or tingly feeling), noisy breathing, sighing, shallow breathing, a slow heart rate or weak pulse, a light-headed feeling (like you might pass out), seizures (convulsions), infertility, missed menstrual periods, impotence, sexual problems and loss of interest in sex.
After the exercise, it was unravelled that most of the OTCMS visited stocked Tramadol for sale and the Tramadol available at the Pharmacies were purchased without a prescription. Again, the exercise revealed that Tramadol is readily available on the various local markets and could be purchased with ease. Dosage strengths available on the open market were 50mg, 100mg, 120mg, 180mg and 225mg.
During the exercise, quantities of Tramadol and other restricted as well as unregistered medicines were seized. The FDA also took advantage of the exercise to educate both pharmacies and Over the Counter Medicine Sellers to ensure their operations are in accordance with the law.
The exercise, which is on-going, is intended to be carried out nationwide.