The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control has said it will continue hydroxychloroquine clinical trials for the treatment of COVID-19 in Nigeria, despite the suspension of  the trials by the World Health Organisation.

The PUNCH reported  that the WHO, on Monday, said it had “temporarily” suspended the clinical trials of hydroxychloroquine as a potential treatment for COVID-19.

But the NAFDAC Director General, Prof Mojisola Adeyeye, who spoke on Television Continental on Tuesday, stated that there was evidence that hydroxychloroquine had been effective in the treatment of COVID-19 patients, especially those at the “mild stage” of the virus.

Adeyeye said, “There is data to prove that hydroxychloroquine worked for many COVID-19 patients. Therefore, we would continue our own clinical trials in Nigeria. Hydroxychloroquine has been proved to work at a mild stage. So the potency depends on the severity of the disease in the patient’s body.”

While noting that Lagos State had already begun hydroxychloroquine clinical trials, the NAFDAC boss said, depending on the speed of work, the clinical trials would be  concluded in three to four months.

“If medical doctors, research scientists, pharmacists and herbal experts work together, we should conclude the clinical trial in three to four months. The narrative might change afterwards, but for now, we believe in hydroxychloroquine,” she stated.

According to the WHO, the decision to suspend trials of hydroxychloroquine followed a study, which showed that using the drug on COVID-19 patients could increase their chance of dying.

The WHO Director General, Tedros Ghebreyesus, said, “The Executive Group has implemented a temporary pause of the hydroxychloroquine arm within the Solidarity Trial, while the safety data is reviewed by the Data Safety Monitoring Board.”

He stressed that hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine “are accepted as generally safe for use in patients with autoimmune diseases or malaria”, noting that the suspension was a temporary measure.

Health ministry  gets Madagascar’s drug from SGF today

Barring any last minute change in plan, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, will on Wednesday (today) hand over Madagascan native formulation for the treatment of COVID-19 to the Ministry of Health.

Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire, disclosed this on Sunday evening during a programme on Channels Television, Sunday Politics.

We had reportedly on Sunday that over a week after receiving the Madagascan formulation for the treatment of COVID-19, the Presidency had yet to send the samples to NAFDAC for testing.

The report had quoted a source as saying that the drug, which was delivered to the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), by his Guinea Bissau counterpart, Umarro Embalo, 10 days ago, had remained in the possession of the SGF.

Ehanire, in confirming the report, said his ministry would take delivery of the drug “on the next working day.”

Since the Federal Government has declared Monday and Tuesday as public holidays to mark this year’s Eid-el-Fitr, the next working day is Wednesday.

The minister said, “The Madagascar herb is supposed to be handed over to the Ministry of Health on the next working day.

“That’s when we will pick it up and then send to our research institutes, first of course to NAFDAC and then to the Nigeria Institute of Pharmaceutical Research and Development to look into it and tell us what it is.”

On issue of local alternative experts, the minister said he had received “quite a few” proposals from people who claimed to have medicines for the virus.

He said NAFDAC and other research institutes would also look into the samples sent to him.

The minister said the process might take a bit of time.

Ehanire said the country would continue to increase on its testing capacity, which he said depended on getting the reagents which  had very high global demand.

The SGF had, at the daily COVID-19 briefing last Tuesday, said he had received the consignment of Madagascar’s drug and that  it would be sent to the ministry of health.

Mustapha had said, “As God would have it, the President of Guinea Bissau decided to visit our President last Saturday and when he was coming, he came with our consignment of five cartons and those five cartons were delivered to me yesterday in the evening, sealed, without a bottle out of it.

“I am going to engage the minister of health who has the responsibility of validation, through his institutions that are chartered by law to do that. The President was upfront with that even when he took delivery of it from the President of Guinea Bissau.

“He said it quite clearly of what we are going to do with the consignment would be guided by science, under the processes of validation. We’ll now know where to go.”