COVID-19: Resist non-evidence-based therapy, NAPPSA urges NAFDAC, FG

6 days ago 10
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The Nigerian Association of Pharmacists and Pharmaceutical Scientists in the Americas (NAPPSA) has called on the National Agency for Food, Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC) and the Federal Government to insist on scientific-based process in the quest for therapeutic solution to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

The call was contained in the association’s latest updates on the global efforts to curtail the pandemic released by its President, Anthony Ikeme, and the Secretary, Aloysius Ibe. According to NAPPSA, it is imperative that NAFDAC, as the regulatory agency, be fully involved in the development and use of any drug to treat or prevent COVID-19 in Nigeria to ensure drug safety. NAPPSA also called on the Federal Government to support research and development efforts for COVID-19 as well as to tread cautiously before throwing its weight behind any therapeutic claim for the disease.

“We strongly recommend that drugs to treat or prevent COVID-19 be evaluated in randomised clinical trials (RCT). Since clinical trials for therapeutics are regulated by NAFDAC, the agency should issue guidance on the development of drugs with direct antiviral activity, immunomodulatory activity or other mechanisms of action. The Federal Government should also be fully committed to supporting R&D efforts for COVID-19,” NAPPSA said.

The association said the call became necessary in view of the unfettered promotion by Nigerians and other African nations of purported COVID-19 therapeutic drugs and treatments that are not scientifically proven. NAPPSA said of particular interest are the promotions of Artemisia-based COVID-Organics (CVO) from Madagascar and COV-herbal Cough Mixture from the Office of TCAM in Nigeria, among other products. “We strongly advise against using scientifically untested or unproven remedies for COVID-19. Nigerians deserve to use medicines tested to the same standards as people in the rest of the world. Even if therapies are derived from traditional practice and natural sources, establishing their efficacy and safety through rigorous clinical trials is critical,” NAPPSA said.

The association explained that it felt obligated to raise these concerns over these drugs due to the dangers posed by untested and unproven therapies, including safety issues and credibility questions. Failure to enforce due clinical trial process “encourages the proliferation of wild untested therapeutic claims which is a breeding ground for unsafe use of therapeutic agents with huge implications for public health.”

The pharmaceutical body reiterated that it was mindful that the COVID-19 pandemic demands scientists with expertise and know-how, including Nigerian scientists, to expedite the search and discovery of new therapeutic remedies for the coronavirus disease and to save lives. “But this effort should not be at the expense of quality and scientific rigor.”

Madagascar’s CVO is made from the artemisia plant which is a source of artemisinin, a significant component of modern antimalarials. This has led some other commentators to warn of the collateral effect that could result from the development of artemisinin resistance, if it is used at a very large scale against coronavirus. It has been pointed out that as horrible as COVID-19 is, it is not good public health policy to trade solution for one public health issue with another one. While almost five million cases of COVID-19 have been recorded around the world, causing more than 300,000 deaths as of May 15, there are over 200 million cases of malaria around the world and half a million deaths in children under five.

NAPPSA again reiterated its commitment to given regular updates on the global fight against COVID-19 to ensure its homeland defeat the disease quickly and emerge stronger with a quality healthcare system.

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