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Author Topic: Nigeria seeks solution to prevalent substandard anti-malarials  (Read 2511 times)
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Francis Umeoguaju
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« on: April 05, 2011, 02:43:27 pm »


A recent report of surveys carried out by the World Health Organisation (WHO) has said two out of every three anti-malaria medicine sold and used in Nigeria are not likely to work either because they are fake or lacked sufficient quantity of the active ingredient.
This is worrisome, but the National Malaria Control Programme (NMCP) of Nigeria has said there is no cause for alarm. 
Coordinator of the programme, Dr. Babajide Coker disclosed that the Nigerian government, through NMCP is set to water down the efforts of fakers of anti-malaria medicines by reducing the cost of genuine drugs sold in designated health facilities across the country. 
The reduced cost of retailed anti-malaria medicines is, however, not reflective of the cost of production as Coker confirmed in an interview with Daily Independent that various international pharmaceutical companies and organisations have stepped in with funding to help bring down the cost for Nigerians. 
He disclosed that Nigeria has signed the Affordable Medicine Facility-Malaria (AMFM), an initiative supported by the Global Fund, to make authentic and effective anti-malarials affordable in countries that sign up to it.
Coker said six global manufacturers and over 40 first line buyers have registered to be part of the programme, which is partly funded by Global Fund in Nigeria. At the end, most Artemisin-based Combination Therapy (ACT) drugs for malaria treatment would cost N70, according to Coker. 
He decried the drug-faking phenomenon, saying it is worrisome in Nigeria, but assured that measures are in place to beat the fakers to their game. 
This, according to Coker would be achieved with the collaboration of the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC).
“We have met with the Director General of NAFDAC to discuss and strategise on how to subdue the incidence of antimalarial faking and adulteration,” Coker told Daily Independent on phone. 
Speaking on the benefits of signing on to the AMFM initiative, Coker said, “By this, effective malaria drugs would be made available to Nigerians through credible channels at very affordable rates that would make the business of faking and adulteration unattractive,” Coker said.
He disclosed that combination therapies used in malaria treatment could be sold for as low as N75, adding, “With that why would someone want to go and spend so much money trying to adulterate and not get registered with NMCP and NAFDAC to benefit from AMFM?”
Details of the WHO survey were released in February.
Although the survey also says the same of anti-malarials sold and consumed in Cameroun, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya and Tanzania, it points out that the case is worst in Nigeria. 
The survey, titled: Assessment of medicines regulatory systems in sub-Saharan African countries: An overview of findings from 26 assessment reports, revealed that one in ten samples of drugs used in malaria treatment shows “extreme” deviations in active ingredients or other standards, which could have life-threatening implications. 
This, according to WHO, has resulted in treatment failures in the affected countries, with the highest incidence of failure being recorded in Nigeria, where two-thirds of all samples tested failed WHO quality tests. 
WHO’s Coordinator for quality assurance and medicines safety Lembit Rägo, was quoted as saying that “In Nigeria, a patient is more likely to be treated with a substandard drug than one which meets quality specifications.” 
This is a confirmation of complaints among Nigerians that most of the antimalarials sold on the shelves of pharmacies across the country do not deliver the right efficacy. This prompted a nationwide efficacy trial over one year ago that confirmed the efficacy of malaria drugs sold in government hospitals and other approved health facilities. 
The latest WHO report says that Ghana and Cameroun, with failure rates of 39 per cent and 37 per cent respectively, are not doing particularly well either. 

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