At a press briefing in Lagos on Tuesday, the Acting Director-General of the Agency, Yetunde Oni, explained the misconception in details.
Mrs. Oni said the banned drugs are oral monotherapies containing single Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients, API such as Artesunate as contained in Arinate tablet and “are quite different from the recommended Anti-Malaria drugs used in Nigeria.”
The briefing was prompted by the Nigerian Senate’s resolution last week which was reported by PREMIUM TIMES that it would investigate reports of 42 anti-malaria drugs banned by the EU still in circulation in the country.
According to reports by EU, the drugs were banned as a result of their effect on health, including causing kidney failure.
“It is pertinent to mention that the allegedly banned anti-malarial medicines are oral monotherapies containing single Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (API) such as Artesunate as contained in Arinate tablet.
“Others are Amodiaquine as contained in Camoquine, Dihydroartemisinin contained in Alaxin tablet and Pyrimethamine contained in Daraprim tablet,” Mrs. Oni, a medical doctor, said during the briefing.
Checks revealed that drugs such as Artesunate are often used as part of combination therapy, meaning that there are other components that make up the ones widely used in the country.
According to Mrs. Oni, anti-malarial monotherapies are actually not recommended for treatment of malaria in Nigeria.
She listed the approved anti-malaria drugs in the country as Artemisin Combination Therapies (ACTs) as recommended by the World Health Organization, WHO.
“I wish to state categorically that these antimalarial monotherapies are not recommended for treatment of malaria in Nigeria.
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“The recommended anti-malarial medicines for the treatment of malaria in Nigeria are Artemisin Combination Therapies (ACTs).
“The use of ACTs in the treatment of malaria is in line with the guidelines for the treatment of malaria, 3rs Edition, World Health Organisation 2015, Geneva Switzerland.
“The Nigeria National Anti-Malarial Treatment Policy, February 2005 supports the use of ACTs.”
She noted that the anti-malarial medications that Nigerians needed to avoid were those that had no authentication system.
“We recommend that you do not buy any anti-malarial drug that does not have the ‘scratch and text technique.’ Every anti-malarial 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.