Egypt’s Tramadol Problem ‘More Popular Than Bread’

05 December 2017
Egypt’s Tramadol Problem ‘More Popular Than Bread’

Tramadol, a medication traditionally used to relive pain has become one of Egypt’s most widely abused drugs. According to Egypt’s Minister of Social Solidarity, Ghana Wali, the drug has become so widespread that in 2014 it became a felony to carry or be in procession of tramadol without a prescription.

The Egyptian population rely heavily on the drug to help them stay awake during long working hours. Given that there is a lack of available skilled jobs people are being forced into manual labor jobs to make ends meat to support themselves and their families as average household income in Egypt is less than £4000 a year. Taxi drivers have allegedly used tramadol to help them stay awake on the road and corrupt officials accept it as a bribe.

With addiction taking place only after a few days of consecutive use and drug dealers dubbing tramadol ‘more popular than bread’ the Drug Fund’s hotline was established in 2017 to offer free confidential treatment to patients and try to curb the ever growing problem. Although the drug is not as strong as heroin it can be more addictive and it shares the same side effects including liver damage, psychosis, headaches, difficulty sleeping, nausea, seizures, shivers, and dizziness. The hotline reported to receiving 48,000 calls from January to June 2017, double the calls they received the previous year and confirmed that tramadol accounted for 40.7% of drug users with synthetic cannabinoids falling closely behind.

The crackdown on tramadol has caused prices to surge to between $1-$3 a pill making it harder for people to get their daily fix. But although this might lead to a reduction in tramadol there is the worry that users will switch to heroin as a cheaper alternative suggesting Egypt’s drug problem is yet to get worse.

With the Randox Toxicology biochip array technology, rehabilitation centers, hospitals and doctors will be able to correctly test for tramadol, heroin and other widely abused drugs found within Egypt’s black market.  Tramadol is found in a range of our panels including DoA Ultra: The Ultimate Drugs Screen.

DoA ULTR panels detects up to 20 targeted drugs, offering a cross reactivity profile of 357 compounds including amphetamine, benzoduazepines, fentanyl, methadone, heroin, and methamphetamine.  Excellent assay precision and performance eliminates false reporting, therefore reducing unnecessary confirmatory tests and time lost in the laboratory as a result. Our biochip arrays offer CVs typically less than 10%, producing an accurate drug profile to ensure confidence in results.

For more information on tramadol or any of our panels get in touch with us by emailing

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