By Emeka Okeke, Abuja
Madagascan Republic has asked Nigeria to pay 170,000 Euros for the quantity of its COVID-19 cure drugs sent to the Federal Government, it was learnt at the weekend.
The quantity of the consignment sent to Nigeria through Guinea Bissau could not be ascertained yesterday.
Guinea Bissau President Umaro Sissoco Embalo, who visited President Muhammadu Buhari at the State House in Abuja on Saturday, brought the drugs allocated to Nigeria by Madagascar.
President Buhari said Nigeria would take the drug through intensive test to determine its suitability.
A source on Sunday said: “For our consignments in Guinea Bissau, Madagascar has asked Nigeria to pay over €170,000 (N78, 200,000). We have received the invoice because the African country has made us to realise that the drugs are not being given out free.
“We are being asked to pay for the drugs yet to be validated. Since the AU directed the supply of the drugs to African countries, we may have no choice than to pay for it.
“This payment may, however, be one-off because mass importation of the drugs from Madagascar will not be cost effective. By the time we take into account the cost of freight, the amount will be too high.
“This is why we are looking at local options available to us as a nation.
“Some researchers have told us that we have richer herbs to contain COVID-19. In fact, a shop in Wuse 2, Abuja has been discovered to be selling Artemisia Tea with high potency than COV drugs.
“As a nation, we will leave all options open and look inwards. But, we will subject Madagascar herbal drugs to verification or validation.
“The Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 is also thinking of asking the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) and the National Institute for Pharmaceutical Research and Development (NIPRD) to relax the protocols and hasten the validation of local drugs for COVID-19.:
The NAFDAC and NIPRD are awaiting the samples from Madagascar for validation.
A highly-placed source in NIPRD said: “We are yet to get the samples for testing and validation. We are hopeful that this week, we might receive them. Our team is on the alert.”
The Director-General of the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Prof Mojisola Adeyeye, said many researchers and practitioners have responded to its call for expression of interest for the COVID-19 related medicines.
In a statement on NAFDAC website, Adeyeye said:”The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), as at the time of this press release, has only received application from one company for a product the company is presenting (for approval) to the Agency for the treatment of the symptoms of Covid-19, and not for the cure of Covid-19 as a disease.
“Call for expression of interest for the COVID-19 related medicines was made; several researchers and practitioners have responded and are being guided to submit such medicines to NAFDAC for expedited review. The agency continues to encourage all stakeholders to present the products of their research findings and allow these remedies go through internationally recognised process of approval 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 guidance to expedite the development of effective interventions to treat or prevent COVID-19.”