NAFDAC orders mass production of chloroquine for COVID-19 treatment

The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) has ordered mass production of Chloroquine for emergency stock for possible clinical trial treatment.

Chloroquine was reported to had demonstrated marked efficacy and acceptable safety in treating COVID-19 associated pneumonia in a multi-center clinical trials conducted in China.

The study, which involved 10 hospitals in Wuhan, Jingzhou, Guangzhou, Beijing, Shanghai, Chongqing and Ningbo, was reported to be superior to controlling pneumonia associated with COVID-19, and shortening the cause of the disease.

Nigeria discontinued the use of Chloroquine as anti-malaria drug many years ago because of the resistance the parasite developed against the drug.

NAFDAC Director General, Prof. Mojisola Adeyeye, in a statement released in Abuja, yesterday, expressed fear that sourcing the raw material, Active Pharmaceutical Ingredient (API) chloroquine phosphate, could be difficult because the use of the drug was discontinued in Nigeria long ago.

“About four weeks ago, I approached a local drug manufacturing company in Nigeria (May and Baker), a member of Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Group of Manufacturing Association of Nigeria (PMGMAN), whose flagship product in the past was chloroquine to make a batch of the drug for emergency stock.

“The company had NAFDAC approval for the production of the drug as antimalarial many years ago before the discontinuation. But my fear is possible difficulty in getting the API due to the fact that the drug has been discontinued long ago.

“But few days after, they called that they were able to get the API, and I asked them to manufacture a batch for emergency stock just in case more people become exposed and infected with the virus. The batch has been manufactured and the company plans to make more batches if needed.”

NAFDAC, however, advised Nigerians to desist from its use without the guidance of a medical doctor or clinician for cases of clinical trial treatment of COVID-19.

“It has side effects such as gastrointestinal upset, blurred vision, headache and pruritis (itching). The itching can be relieved by using antihistamine. Prolonged use can also cause retinopathy or vision impairment,” it said.

The agency promised to use its regulatory activities to ensure clinical trial protocol guidelines are followed and wished the clinical research teams great success in stopping the raging pandemic.

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