May and Baker, one of the manufacturers of the controlled antimalarial drug, Chloroquine, has reacted to the recent hike in price of the products by pharmaceutical stores owners.
It should be noted that the company is the only licensed producer of the drug, which comes in injectables and tablets, in Nigeria.
POLITICS NIGERIA earlier reported how retail drug stores in Nigeria increased the price of the medicine after the United States President, Donald Trump, recommended it for the treatment of COVID-19.
Popularly known as Coronavirus, the Covid-19 pandemic has been recorded in not less than 184 countries in the world. According to worldometer, a website dedicated to providing real-time statistics, over 3.8 million people have contracted the disease globally.
After Mr Trump’s recommendation, reports from the Food and Drug Agency have it that there are no pieces of evidence to support the efficacy of Chloroquine for Covid-19 treatment.
Also, the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) has warned against the use of the antimalarial drug for the disease as it is still undergoing clinical trials.
POLITICS NIGERIA findings, however, showed that retail drug stores increased the price of a tablet from 10 naira to over 50 naira.
Particularly in Lagos state, our reporter confirmed that 10 tablets are sold for 500 naira or 700 naira in some drug stores. Meanwhile, when May and Baker was reached, it denied any hike in the rates it sold chloroquine to Pharmacies.
“The price in the company remains the same,” Blessing, a customer care officer, told POLITICS NIGERIA in a telephone interview.
She emphasised that whatever price the retailers sell the product is not the business of the company.
Ms Blessing also refused to disclose the rates that May and Baker sell the drugs to the stores, saying she is not in the position to let out the rates of the Anti-Malaria drug.
Nevertheless, Babatunde Irukera, the Chief Executive Officer of the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC), informed POLITICS NIGERIA that a Covid-19 response platform has been set up for complaints of a price hike.
“We have set up a Covid-19 Response platform where people can log this type of feedback so we can pursue enforcement as we are against many right now,” He said in response to an enquiry sent by this reporter.
Mr Irukera added that the commission has filed criminal charges against four major supermarkets/pharmacies on price hikes and gathering details about others.
Also reacting to the report, the Chairman of the Lagos State Chapter of the Association of Pharmacists of Nigeria, Obideyi Olabanji, confirmed the incidents of hike in price of the Anti-Malaria drug.
According to him ” the Association of Community Pharmacists of Nigeria does not regulate price of drugs. Yes, we are very much aware. Following the pronouncements on the use of chloroquine in management of COVD-19, the demand became so high and that made the price to shoot update especially with it being in short supply since NAFDAC outlawed its use in malaria treatment.”
He opined that; apart from the physical cost of drugs, there are other cost elements that a pharmacist factor before arriving at a price. “The factors include counselling and consultation cost for those practising ethically.”
Mr Olabanji then stated that the association has always preached against price gouging for essential drugs needed by the populace especially during this COVID-19 pandemic.