The Nigerian drug agency announced the ban on Tuesday.
The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control, NAFDAC, on Tuesday announced a partial ban of Flunitrazepam, a prescription sleep therapy that shot to national notoriety after it was used in the rape and murder of late Cynthia Osokogu.
The tablet, known by common brand name as Rohypnol or Reflon, will now be restricted to only “determined” outlets in the country, lining Nigeria among countries with strict restriction of the drug.
The agency said the status of the drug as Prescription Only Medicine, POM, is to be forcefully enforced while quarterly reports on its distribution and use are to be submitted by Marketing Authorization Holders, MAH, to NAFDAC.
“Until the recent incident which claimed the life of Miss Osokogu, there had not been any report in the national database” about the drug, Director General of NAFDAC, Paul Orhii, said at a media conference Tuesday.
Miss Osokogu, who kicked up an ambitious business effort after her National Youth Service programme, was drugged last July by a gang she met on Facebook and through Blackberry chat, repeatedly raped and viciously beaten, before she was strangled and abandoned in a Lagos hotel room.
The last child of a retired Army general, she had travelled to meet the men in Lagos, who offered her discount sales for her start-up clothing business in Keffi, Nassarawa state.
The offer turned out a fatal lure after her attackers further enticed her with a pickup from the airport, hotel accommodation to prelude “business talks.”
The brutal killing sparked a national outrage with concerns over how the prescription medicine, identified as Reflon, was purchased over the counter without the authorization of the physician.
Amongst those arrested and charged by the police, were two pharmacists who operated the store where the drugs were purchased. The pharmacists were later released in a controversial circumstance.
It has taken the federal anti-counterfeiting body, NAFDAC, more than seven months to arrive at the decision for a partial ban of the drug.
Mr. Orhii said the agency needed time to make consultations with the National Drug Safety Advisory Committee, made up of professors of medicine, and other health experts on the best response.
A total ban was avoided since the drug remains useful in the treatment of sleep disorder.
Flunitrazepam is registered in Nigeria by Roche Nigeria Limited as a one milligram tablet with the brand name, Rohypnol, while the other brand registered in Nigeria is Swinol by Swiss Pharma Limited.
The drug is freely registered and used in several countries including Austria, Germany, Japan, Switzerland, Italy and Greece, while it is totally banned in countries like the United Kingdom, Denmark, Zimbabwe, Russia, Netherlands and Vietnam.
The drug is strictly controlled, or partially banned in the United States of America.
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