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The news of Ruona J. Meyer‘s BBC documentary, titled Sweet Sweet Codeine, getting nomination for the 2019 Emmy Awards was greeted with much excitement especially for journalists that have put in much effort towards investigating and filming documentaries on issues that affect societal living negatively.

Sweet Sweet Codeine

The documentary exposes the danger behind the excessive intake of the cough syrup, Codeine, and the forces behind the continuous sell of the syrup in Nigeria without doctor’s prescription. The documentary is the first nomination BBC World Service and BBC Nigeria have gotten for the Emmys since its establishment in the media space.

Ruona J. Meyer’s motivation for the investigation stems from the fact that her brother became addicted to the much talked about syrup and there was no better way to fight it than the use of media to expose individuals responsible for the sale of codeine on the streets of Lagos state, Nigeria.

Image result for Ruona J. Meyer

The award-winning Nigerian journalist went undercover with BBC Africa Eye to make public the horror attached to the opioid crisis confronting Nigeria. The documentary has won numerous awards since its release, but getting the nod for an International Emmy in the News and Current Affairs category is worth unending applause.

Part of recordings for the documentary show several pharmaceutical figures selling codeine illegally on the black market. For instance, an Emzor pharmaceuticals business development executive, Chukwunonye Madubuike, was caught in the documentary boasting to BBC undercover journalists in a hotel room in Lagos that he could sell one million cartons of the syrup in a week in the black market.

When somebody is addicted to something – you get me? – and he needs it, the price I don’t think is an issue… This is a product that I know that if I have one million cartons, I can sell it in a week.

Chukwunonye Madubuike

The employee was shown the exit door by Emzor, who offered support for the combat against excessive intake and abuse of codeine.

We hope the findings of the documentary will shed further light on the extent and impact of the illicit trade and consumption of codeine… We hope that full stakeholder engagement will result in impactful action against the abuse, smuggling and faking of drugs on the continent.

Emzor Pharmaceuticals

In a bid to end the menace, the Nigerian government has banned the import of codeine. While remaining stock of the drug can be sold, drug manufacturers in Nigeria have been warned by the federal government not to use codeine in cough syrup.

Prior to this ban, the sale of the syrup was legal, provided purchase for it in a drug store was backed by a doctor’s prescription or pharmaceutical license. However, in light of the uncontrollable illegal sale of codeine and revelations made public through Ruona’s documentary, the drug is now banned, with or without the prescription of a doctor.




Featured Image Source: African Women In Media

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This article was first published on 9th August 2019


I am a Lion, I love to hit heights that seem impossible so I can motivate others and prove doubters wrong. For me, impossible is nothing. I'm open to learning and I love to read, travel and meet new faces.

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