In Nigeria, thousands of young people are addicted to codeine-based cough syrup – a drug that has become a street drug. The highly addictive opioid-containing syrup, codeine, is used by young Nigerians to get high
Used as a drug for a long time in the American rap world under the name of Lean, Purple Drink or Sizzurp, the abuse of codeine [The Drug That Kills Rappers] has spread to Africa.
But who makes this syrup, and who sells it to the students of Nigeria?
The case of Emzor Pharmaceuticals
During a secret investigation, BBC not only filmed but also denounced several people selling codeine-based syrup to young people in the black markets of Nigeria.
One of them, an executive working for Emzor Pharmaceuticals was filmed and boasted of being able to sell “a million cartons” within a week on the black market. But Emzor told the BBC that his representative did not have access only a very limited amount of its brand of syrup, Emzolyn with codeine, and could not sell large quantities illegally.
Emzor Pharmaceuticals fired the company’s manager, who was caught selling 60 bottles of Emzolyn with codeine to an undercover journalist.
In a posting on his official Facebook account, Emzor Pharmaceuticals declared “suspension of product distribution until further notice“.
The company promised a “comprehensive and thorough” internal investigation.
The drug is legal, but it is illegal to sell it to people without a doctor’s prescription or to those who do not have a pharmaceutical license.
According to the Nigerian Senate, three million bottles of codeine syrup are consumed daily in two states of Kano and Jigawa.
The Case of Bioraj Pharmaceuticals
Hussan, aka Baba Ibeji, works for Bioraj Pharmaceuticals, a licensed medical producer that manufactures a codeine cough syrup called Biolin. The company is a major supplier to northern Nigeria.
Mr. Hussan is one of a number of pharmaceutical company employees that the BBC has secretly filmed making illegal deals with cough syrup in recent months.
When Bioraj was informed that there was evidence that Mr. Hassan was engaged in this illegal activity, the company replied that the company only sold codeine-based cough syrup on a lawful basis, that Mr. Hassan denied the wrongdoing and that Bioku Rahamon personally presides over the sales of Biolin.