National Pharmacy News

Title: MMA: Banning codeine will not solve drug problem
Date: 21-Nov-2000
Category: The Sun
Association disagrees with CAP’s recommendation regarding sales of cough mixtures Codeine is still a good cough suppressant and banning codeine containing cough mixtures will not solve the drug addiction problem in the country, The Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) said toady. Its president, Datuk Dr P. Krishnan, said the MMA disagrees with the recommendation of the Consumers Association of Penang (CAP) that sales of such products be banned. He said the MMA also disagrees with CAP’s view that "its usefulness as a cough suppressant has been superseded." CAP president S.M.Mohd Idris, in a recent letter to the editor, called on the authorities to emulate Egypt and immediately ban the sale of all such cough mixtures. Idris said the widespread practice of selling such cough mixtures without proper control is supporting the drug habit among addicts and also helps create future addicts. Krishnan said abuses of drugs could occur not only with cough mixtures, but also with other medications, including sedatives. "Banning codeine will not solve the drug addition problem in the country, and we cannot go on banning medication drugs as a result of this," he said. However, he said, the MMA feels that to curtail the abuse of codeine containing cough mixtures, there need to be proper enforcement by the Health Ministry. Pharmaceutical Services division director Dr Anis Ahmad told The Sun today the issue was also raised in 1995 and the ministry decided against banning the products after consulting various medical professional groups. Following their recommendations, the ministry came up with several measures to curb the abuses and restrict their distribution. They include banning import of all codeine containing cough mixtures, this allowing only local manufacturers to produce them, allowing sales of the products only in bottle not exceeding 60mls; imposing a yearly quota on the amount of codeine allowed to be imported by the manufacturers and requiring the manufacturers to apply for import permit to bring in codeine. Anis said the manufacturers have since been prohibited from using ephedrine, a stimulant, in their cough mixture to reduce the likelihood of abuses He said the manufacturers are also required to provide the ministry with a monthly record of the quantity sold and of their buyers or the distributors, adding that this move has enabled the ministry to prosecute some pharmacists and doctors. "To import codeine [powder], manufacturers have to apply for import permit from us and the exporting countries mainly Australia, Britain, Germany and France, too, will have to send us their export permits." he said. Both importing and exporting countries must also provide information on the transaction to the International Narcotics control Board (INCB) in Vienna, which will notify them if discrepancies were detected.
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