By Cecilia Ijuo
The Senate on Wednesday mandated its Committee on Health to investigate the circulation and sale in the country of 42 anti-malaria drugs banned by the European Union (EU).
It said that the investigation was imperative and urged the committee to expedite action on it to save the lives of Nigerians.
The decision followed a motion by Sen. Theodore Orji (PDP-Abia) at plenary on Wednesday.
Presenting the motion, Orji said that the drugs, which were already banned by the EU, were still being sold and consumed in Nigeria.
According to him, the reason given for the ban of the 42 drugs in Europe is that they are considered dangerous and linked to cause of kidney failure.
He said that according to a report, EU countries must not stock drugs that contain Plasmotrin, Artequin, Co-arinate, Arco, Artecon and Dialquin.
Orji disclosed that the President of the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA), Prof. Mike Ogirima, had already confirmed the delisting of those drugs by the EU.
“It is alarming that the 42 drugs are still being stock-piled, sold and consumed in Nigeria.
“This situation is already trending and generating panic and concern among medical practitioners and members of the public.
“The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) and Standard Organisation of Nigeria (SON) that had waged ceaseless war on the influx of fake and substandard items have not adequately addressed the issue,’’ he said.
The lawmaker said that most of the drugs in the banned list were popular and common in Nigeria and were easily obtained across the counter with or without proper prescription.
In his contribution, the Chairman, Senate Committee on Health, Sen. Olarewanju Tejuoso, commended the lawmaker for coming up with the motion.
He said that the committee had invited the Acting Director-General of NAFDAC, Mrs Yetunde Oni, on the matter.
However, he explained that from his experience as a medical doctor, some of the drugs were used as combination therapy.
“There is a conflict between World Health Organisation (WHO) and European Union. The WHO for instance, accepts combination therapy.
“The most important thing, however, is the need to strengthen the Medical Research Institute through adequate funding to carry out research on what works for us.
“Every year, we rely on WHO and other organisations to find solution to our problems; so, the institute should be funded to know what works for us,’’ he said.
Sen. Jibrin Barau (APC-Kano) said it was pathetic that such drugs still found their way into the country in spite of their adverse effect.
“`No wonder we have rampant kidney failure in Nigeria. Unfortunately the experts are not doing their work properly.
“It is important that agencies like NAFDAC and experts in health sector are called upon to quickly intervene,’’ he said.
Sen. James Manager (PDP-Delta) said that the information given by Orji called for urgent attention, adding that if the drugs were dangerous for use in Europe, they would be dangerous to all humans.
According to him, the difference between the Europeans and Africans is only the skin colour, all human organs function the same way.
“Everyday people die silently because of wrong prescription of drugs.
“We need to fund the institute if not we are indirectly poisoning Nigerians. So, the proper investigation should be done to give us the details in order to appropriately guide Nigerians.
In his remark, the President of the Senate, Dr Bukola Saraki, urged the committee to expedite action on the matter and report back as soon as possible.
He commended Orji for coming up with the motion, adding that the protection of lives was one of the primary responsibilities of the legislature.
“I hope the committee on health will carry out proper investigation to stop these types of drugs from flooding the market,’’ Saraki said.
The list of the drugs as contained in the motion are Alaxin 60 mg tablet (dihydroartemisinine) B/8, Alaxin oral suspension (dihydroartemisinine) FL/80ml, Amadiaguine 200mg compressed B/1000, Arinate 100mgtablet(artesunate)B/6.
Others are Arinate 50mg tablet(artesunate) B/6, Arsumax50 mg tablet (artesunate) B/6, Artemax 60 mg tablet (dihydroartemisinine) B/8, Artemedine 40 mg capsule (artemether) B/12, Artemedine 50 mg tablet(artemether)B/12.
Also listed are Artenam 50 mg tablet(artemether)B/14, Artenam 60 mg tablet(artemether)b/8, Artesiane 300 mg child powder oral suspension(artemether)FL 38g, Artesunate 100 mg compressed B/120, Artesunate 50 mg tablet B/120, Artexin 60 mg tablet(dihydroartemisinine) B/8.
Camoquin 200 mg tablet(amodiaguine) B/9, Camoquin 200 mg tablet(amodiaguine) B/25 blisters, Camoquin 200 mg tablet(amodiaguine) B/55 blisters, Camoquin 200 mg tablet(amodiaguine) B/24 blisters, Camoquin 600 mg tablet(amodiaguine) B/3 blisters, are also part of the list.
They are also Camoquin oral suspension 50 mg/5ml (amodiaguine)FL/60ml, Cotecxin oral suspension(dihydroartemisinine)FL/80ml, Cotecxin 60 mg tablet(dihydroartemisinine)B/8, Daraprim tablet(pyrimethamine)B/8.
Falcinil 50 mg tablet(artesunate)B/12, Flavoquine oral suspension50 mg/5ml(amodiaquine)FL/90ml, Flavoquine200 mg tablet(amodiaquine)B/16, Flavoquine 200 mg tablet(amodiaquine)B/240, made the list.
Others are Gunate strong tablet(artesunate)B/6 gvs labs, Tvitter powder oral suspension(artemether)FL/100ml, Halfan 250mg tablet(halofantrine)B/6, Halfan 250mg tablet(halofantrine)B/120.
The listed also contained Halfanoral suspension 5mg/5ml(halofantrine)FL/45ml, Malartin 200mg tablet(artesunate) B/6, Malartin 50mg tablet(artesunate) B/12, mmh-malarex 450mg capsule(peschiara fuchsiaefolia) B/20.
It included Paludrine 100mg tablet(proguanil)B/56, Plasmotrim 200mg tablet(artesunate)B/25blisters/6, Plasmotrim 200mg tablet(artesunate)B/6, Plasmotrim 50mg lactab (artesunate)B/12, Plasmotrim 50mg lactab (artesunate)B/25 blisters/6.