The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control has said that there are no “killer” antimalarial medicines in circulation in the country.
NAFDAC‘s Acting Director-General, Dr. Yetunde Oni, at a press briefing in Lagos on Tuesday, also urged Nigerians not to panic over the news of banned anti-malarial drugs been sold in the country.
The Senate had launched a probe into the sale of 42 banned antimalarials in the country last week, a development that has caused panic among Nigerians.
Oni, who said the public should disregard what she called the misinformation, stated that the approved malaria treatment in the country were the artemisinin combination therapy.
”We want to correct the news that 42 banned anti-malarial medicines are still circulating in the country. The allegedly banned antimalarial medicines are oral immunotherapies containing single active pharmaceutical ingredients that have been banned since 2005,” she stated.
She, however, noted that the anti-malarial medications that Nigerians needed to avoid were those that had no authentication system.
Oni said, “We recommend that you do not buy any anti-malarial drug that does not have the scratch and text technique. Every antimalarial should have an authentication system so that consumers can confirm if they have bought a genuine drug or not.”
She added that the agency had deployed a mobile application on medicine packages that would allow users to check the status of their products on their phones.
Meanwhile, the Federal Government has also backed the Senate’s probe of banned antimalarials by the European Union, as sold in the country.
The Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, said this during an interview with one of our correspondents on Tuesday.
Adewole said though the Federal Government had placed a ban on all monotherapy antimalarials , some unscrupulous businessmen might devise means of importing them into the country, hence the need to be proactive.
He said, “We have actually placed those drugs on ban for many years because they are monotheraphies that are no longer relevant in the treatment of malaria. They are not being sold legally to the best of my knowledge but that does not mean they cannot be smuggled in. They are not approved.
“We have also said no to chloroquine. We will not give approval for such drugs to be imported into Nigeria and if NAFDAC sees such, they will be seized. So, we have no problem. The Senate is reinforcing what we are doing and we welcome their support.”
The minister, however, urged Nigerians to be discerning when buying malaria drugs as some generic drugs like Halfan have both monotherapy and combination formulas.