Yusuf Alli, Abuja
The REPUBLIC of Madagascar has asked Nigeria to pay 170,000 euros for the amount of COVID-19 healing drugs sent to the federal government, as was learned over the weekend.
The quantity of the shipment sent to Nigeria via Guinea-Bissau could not be verified yesterday.
Guinea-Bissau President Umaro Sissoco Embalo, who visited President Muhammadu Buhari at the State House in Abuja on Saturday, brought the drugs allocated in Nigeria by Madagascar.
President Buhari said Nigeria would take the drug through intensive testing to determine its suitability.
A source said on Sunday: “For our remittances in Guinea-Bissau, Madagascar asked Nigeria to pay more than € 170,000 (N78, 200,000). We received the invoice because the African country made us realize that the drugs are not being distributed for free.
“We are being asked to pay for the drugs yet to be validated. Since the AU directed the supply of medicines to African countries, we may have no choice but to pay for them.
“This payment can, however, be punctual, because the mass import of medicines from Madagascar will not be profitable. When we take into account the cost of shipping, the value will be very high.
“This is why we are looking at the local options available to us as a nation.
“Some researchers have told us that we have richer herbs to contain COVID-19. In fact, it turned out that a store in Wuse 2, Abuja, was selling Artemisia Tea with a higher potency than VOCs.
Read too: COVID-19 and the Madagascar lesson
“As a nation, we will leave all options open and look inside. However, we will submit herbal remedies from Madagascar for verification or validation.
“The Presidential Task Force (PTF) at COVID-19 is also thinking of asking the National Food and Drug Administration and Control Agency (NAFDAC) and the National Pharmaceutical Research and Development Institute (NIPRD) to relax protocols and accelerate validation of local drugs for COVID-19.:
NAFDAC and NIPRD are awaiting Madagascar samples for validation.
A highly positioned source at NIPRD said: “We still need to get the samples for testing and validation. We hope that this week we can receive them. Our team is on alert. "
The director-general of the National Agency for the Administration and Control of Food and Medicines (NAFDAC), Prof Mojisola Adeyeye, said that many researchers and professionals responded to his request for expression of interest in medicines related to COVID-19.
In a statement on the NAFDAC website, Adeyeye said: “The National Food and Drug Administration and Control Agency (NAFDAC), at the time of this press release, only received a request from a company for a product that the company is presenting ( approval) to the Agency for the treatment of Covid-19 symptoms, and not for the cure of Covid-19 as a disease.
“A call for expressions of interest was made for drugs related to COVID-19; several researchers and professionals responded and are being advised to send these drugs to NAFDAC for accelerated review. The agency continues to encourage all interested parties to present the products of their research findings and allowing these drugs to go through internationally recognized approval processes, through pre-clinical and, where applicable, clinical trials.
"Finally, as the body with the mandate to regulate the conduct of clinical trials in the country, NAFDAC is committed to encouraging and supporting sponsors with appropriate guidelines to accelerate the development of effective interventions to treat or prevent COVID-19."