Mrs Olivia Boateng, Head of the Tobacco and Substances Abuse Department of the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA), has advised the public against the use of Tramadol due to the fact that it can push them to commit suicide.
Abusers sometimes may hallucinate; climb high places and may see it as a normal height and by the time they realise, they had fallen to death from that high place.
Mrs Boateng was speaking at the opening of a five-day training workshop on Pharmaceutical Crime Investigations and Intelligence, being held in Accra.
It has attracted District Chief Executives (DCEs), Chief Executive Officers, FDA staff from across the country, representatives from the security agencies (Interpol, Narcotic Control Board, CEPS, BNI, CID) and the judicial service.
She said such people sometimes lose their sense of judgements and if they were drivers, for instance, they may cause fatal accidents when they were on Tramadol.
Not only does the drug trigger suicide tendencies but also causes headaches, extreme constipation, diarrhoea and drossiness, noisy or low breath, reduces pulse rate, heart failure, slow down brain activities, infertility, impotency, irregular menstruations in women and others.
She explained that the deadly drug, whether the prescribed ones (50milligrams/mg and 100 mg) or the abused ones, mostly, the 120 milligrams, 225 milligrams and the 250 milligrams would have effects on the user. It was also the cause of the upsurge of serious criminal activities in the country.
Mrs Boateng said the most dangerous part of using Tramadol was when it was abused by the users mixing it with other substances such as energy drinks, alcohol, among other concoctions.
The Head of the Department said, taking Tramadol with other substances such as energy drink, alcohol and others, can be life threatening as it can affect the nervous system, slow down brain activities, affect the brain and lead to renal dysfunctions, among others.
She enumerated some of the reasons people took the drug as sleeping tablets, enhancing their sexual drives, enabling them work at longer hours and study for longer hours in students.
Mrs Delese Mimi Darko, the CEO of FDA, said the evils of pharmaceutical crime had become a global phenomenon, which posed a major threat to public health, security and economies of countries.
She said production and trafficking of falsified medicines had cost innocent lives, and that lenient penalties had made the illegal business more attractive, adding that, the Ghanaian borders were porous and dangerous products were smuggled in and peddled by individuals of whom some are foreigners.
The CEO stated that FDA had detected the supply of fake drugs including de-wormers, anti-malarial, antibiotics, codeine-containing cough mixtures and controlled substances one of which is Tramadol, adding that it was a man-made pain killer and those prescribed in Ghana were the 50mg, 100mg (tablets and capsules) and 50mg/ml-2ml in injection.
Mr Vigil Prah-Ashun, Head of the Drug Market Surveillance in a presentation, said continuous market surveillance, capacity building for investigation and intensification for staff and public education would help to curb the situation.