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COVID-19: Three local drugs shortlisted for investigation

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The Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 on Wednesday said three local drugs have been shortlisted for investigation as possible treatment for COVID-19, or its symptoms by the Federal Ministry of Health.

The Chairman of theTask Force, Mr Boss Mustapha, disclosed this on Wednesday at the PTF press briefing in Abuja.

According to Mustapha, who is also the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, the three shortlisted drugs would be subjected to further investigations by relevant health agencies.

The SGF further disclosed that the Federal Ministry of Health had held a virtual meeting with some researchers and scientists who had made claims about COVID-19 cure and shortlisted three for further research.

He stated: “As a measure of the importance attached to research and development of local capacity for finding a cure to the COVID-19, the Federal Ministry of Health held a virtual meeting with a number of researchers and scientists with claims to cure for COVID 19 and out of the numerous claimants, three were found to deserve further investigation and have been forwarded to the relevant authorities for appropriate review.

“Similarly, efforts are being made by the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology to subject some locally manufactured COVID-19 equipment to verification and subsequent certification.”

In the same vein, Mustapha revealed the task force supports the decision of the World Health Organisation (WHO) to suspend clinical trials of hydroxychloroquine for the treatment of the novel coronavirus, cautioning the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control(NAFDAC) and other relevant agencies to ensure that all claims to treatment by scientists and researchers were subjected to scientific certification protocols.

Read also: 389 new cases of COVID-19 as Nigeria’s total rises to 8733; death toll stands at 254

It would be recalled that the WHO had on Monday suspended the hydroxychloroquine trials because of the high mortalities among patients the drug was administered on.

However, NAFDAC Director General, Prof Mojisola Adeyeye, had insisted that the agency would go ahead with the trial on the grounds that it had been effective in the treatment of COVID- 19 patients, especially those at the mild stage of the virus.

The PTF chairman however called on NAFDAC to subject all claims to scientific investigations.

He said: “In our briefing of Thursday May 21, the PTF categorically advised Nigerians against self-medication in treating COVID -19. Particularly, the use of hydroxychloroquine, was discouraged because it had not been certified for use in treating COVID-19.

“We have read in the media about the side effects of the use of this drug from COVID-19 patients that survived as well as those who took it outside clinical supervision.

“The World Health Organisation has temporarily suspended all clinical trials of hydroxychloroquine as a potential treatment for COVID-19. This advice was informed by a study which identified that the use of hydroxychloroquine, either alone or with other drugs, has been responsible for a high number of deaths.

“This precautionary measure by the WHO underscores the importance of not only seeking expert medical advice but also ensuring that all claims to treatment by scientists and researchers, whether conventional or traditional, should be subjected to scientific certification protocols by NAFDAC and other relevant institutions so as to guarantee the efficacy of the discovery.”

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