ABUJA (Reuters) – Nigeria has recalled 2.4 million bottles of cough syrup containing codeine after national outrage earlier this year over endemic use of opioids.

Nigeria imposed a ban on the production and import of codeine cough syrup earlier this year, though it did not affect products already available in the country.

“This is one of the measures to stem the scourge of drug abuse in the country,” Abubakar Jimoh, a spokesman for the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), said on Tuesday.

“It is also in line with the ministerial policy on the restriction of cough syrup containing codeine.”

For years, opioid abuse, especially of cough syrups containing codeine, was widespread throughout Nigeria. Bottles could be easily obtained over the counter at pharmacies and through drug sellers.

But the issue shot into the public and political domain after the BBC aired an investigation into Nigeria’s codeine cough syrup epidemic in April, followed by a BuzzFeed investigation in May.

In the days following the BBC documentary, the health ministry imposed a ban on codeine cough syrup import and production.

The Senate, Nigeria’s upper house of parliament, voted in favor of the ban, saying the cough syrup trade profited Islamist insurgency Boko Haram in the country’s northeast.

NAFDAC spokesman Jimoh said Nigeria has set up a committee “to implement policies on drug abuse”.

(Reporting by Camillus Eboh; Writing by Paul Carsten; Editing by Catherine Evans)