NAFDAC's Acting DG has said the drugs in question are not recommended for treating malaria.
In a press briefing on Tuesday, July 26, 2017, chaired by the agency's Acting Director-General, Mrs. Yetunde Oni, in Lagos, she eased the concerns of the public, clarifying that the drugs in question were not recommended for treating malaria.
Her statement read, "It is pertinent to mention that the allegedly banned antimalarial medicines are oral monotherapies containing single Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (API).
"I wish to state categorically that these antimalarial monotherapies are not recommended for treatment of malaria in Nigeria.
"The recommended antimalarial medicines for treatment of malaria in Nigeria are ARTEMISININ COMBINATION THERAPIES (ACTs).
"The use of Artemisinin Combination Therapies (ACTs) in the treatment of malaria is in line with the Guidelines for the Treatment of Malaria, 3rd edition, World Health Organization 2015, Geneva Switzerland.
"The Nigeria National Treatment Policy, February 2005 supports the use of ARTEMISININ COMBINATION THERAPIES.
"Sulphadoxine Pyrimethamine (SP) is also a combination antimalarial medicine recommended by both the World Health Organization and the Nigeria National Anti-Malarial Treatment Policy for INTERMITTENT PREVENTIVE TREATMENT (IPT) of malaria.
"In line with the recommendation of the Nigeria National Antimalarial Treatment Policy 2005 and the WHO Guidelines for Treatment of Malaria 2015, NAFDAC stopped registration of antimalarial monotherapies.
"The Agency in collaboration with United States Pharmacopeia (USP) carried out a survey on the quality of antimalarial medicines in 2015.
"The report of the survey was presented to stakeholders on 11th August 2015 and it was revealed that 3.6% of the nine hundred (900) samples of antimalarial medicines procured from six (6) geopolitical zones of the country failed quality test while 96.4% passed.
"Antimalarial monotherapies in the distribution chain were captured during the survey to enable the Agency mop them from circulation.
"NAFDAC Zonal coordinators were directed to conduct surveillance and mop up activities. This exercise has been sustained to ensure that the incidence of oral antimalarial monotherapies is brought to the barest minimum.
"Distinguished ladies and gentlemen of the press, you may wish to know that Artemisinin Combination Therapies (ACTs) are currently used in malaria endemic countries like Nigeria.
"There are no killer antimalarial medicines in Nigeria and it is important that you convey this message to the already agitated members of the public to avoid unnecessary panic."
On Wednesday, July 20, Senate mandated its Committee on Health to investigate the circulation of the drugs following a motion by Sen. Theodore Orji (Abia - PDP) at plenary.
According to him, the drugs were banned in Europe because they were considered dangerous and have been linked to causing kidney failure.
He disclosed that the President of the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA), Prof. Mike Ogirima, had already confirmed the delisting of those drugs by the EU.
While addressing the issue, Sen. Jibrin Barau (Kano - APC) had said, "It is important that agencies like NAFDAC and experts in health sector are called upon to quickly intervene.’’
The Chairman, Senate Committee on Health, Sen. Olarewanju Tejuoso, also disclosed that the committee had invited Mrs. Oni on the matter.