The Pharmaceutical Society of Ghana has learnt with concern the proliferation and abuse of Tramadol, an opioid analgesic, in the country.
The most recent form as being speculated in the media and as our findings have shown is the high doses of tramadol (200mg/250mg) popularly called “TRAMOL” among the youth.
Even though tramadol is an approved drug for the management of pain, the strengths approved for use in Ghana by the FDA are the 50mg and 100mg strengths.
However, the proliferation of this higher strength tramadol that has become popular among the youth of this country calls for concern and coordinated efforts by all stakeholders to rid our markets of this unregistered and unapproved product which has the tendency to threaten the gains made in the provision of healthcare in the country.
As a Society we are aware of the rampant abuse of this high strength product especially in the Sahel Region and the challenges regulatory agencies throughout the ECOWAS region are facing with regards to the distribution and sale of the product. These efforts are being supported by international agencies including the United Nations Office on Drug and Crime (UNODC). It has been noted in Ghana that this high dose tramadol is mostly found in highly populated and concentrated areas including markets and lorry stations in some parts of the country.
Tramadol is a prescription only medicine used to treat moderate to severe pain. When taken, it works on the nervous system and the brain to reduce the feeling of pain. There are many different forms, strengths and brands of tramadol. Some are immediate release formulations that start working quickly to ease the pain, while others are sustained or delayed release thus releasing the active moiety, tramadol more slowly, over several hours, to provide a constant and more even pain control.
It should however be noted that, the perception of good feeling that leads to abuse and misuse can lead to long term consequences such as weakness, sleepiness, insomnia, panic attacks and other symptoms of opioid dependence. In some cases, overdose of tramadol may lead to difficulty in breathing and even death.
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We call on abusers turned addicts to seek help and the youth who take it for recreation because of its euphoric effect to stop, as the long-term implication could have dire consequences on their health.
Tramadol should only be taken on a medical doctor’s prescription. We therefore call on the general public to report any sale of tramadol outside of licensed pharmacies to the FDA/ Pharmacy Council offices across the country while also calling on teachers, parents and care-givers to be on the lookout for suspected behaviors of their children and wards.
Patients who are receiving treatment with tramadol are encouraged to always present their prescriptions at licensed Pharmacies and demand to speak with their Pharmacist on the dangers and possible side effects of tramadol before taking it.
We believe the best investment any nation can make in its citizens is to ensure good health through access to good quality, efficacious, safe and affordable medicines and its rational use, thus we will continue to hold onto our motto: “FRIENDS OF THE HUMAN RACE”.
NJAMIN K. BOTWE
Source: Etornam Komla