This comes a day after World Health Organization (WHO) suspended the use of the anti-malaria drug in solidarity trial for the treatment of COVID-19.
WHO explained that the trial suspension is based on safety concerns following a report published by Lancet, which revealed that more people are dying from the use of the anti-malaria drug.
However, during an interview on Channels TV, Director-General of NAFDAC, Professor Mojisola Adeyeye, said the clinical trial will continue as the body is not aware of the data used in deciding the suspension.
The DG stressed;
I do not know the data that they are looking at, whether it is from the Caucasian population or from the African population. I know that the clinical trial treatment is about to start or have started a few days ago in Lagos.
When you do clinical trial treatment, there are many factors that can affect the clinical outcome. The way drug is handled even from children from the same mother may be different, not to talk of populations.
Professor Mojisola added;
So if the data they are looking at and the reason for suspending the trials is because it is from a Caucasian population, then it may be justified. I don’t think we have data from the African population yet because our genetic makeup is different.
Citing an instance, she said some hypertension drugs that are effective in African American or African community will not work for the Caucasian population because genetic makeup differs.
Professor Mojisola argued that;
When you are doing science experiment or clinical trial, you wait for data. Once we start getting our own data in Africa, then we can go one way or the other.
Reacting to question on whether the drug, which is already on trial in Nigeria, is effective in some patients, the NAFDAC DG said;
There are three stages of COVID19. Because it is a new virus, as we speak, things are evolving meaning new information is coming out almost everyday.
Now we know there are three stages of the disease, the early stage; the mild stage and the severe stage. Very likely that Chloroquine and Hydroxychloroquine will work at the initial and partly mild stages.
She added that;
It depends on the severity of the disease when it was given to the group of patients. If it is the severe case, the body is overwhelmed by what is called the pro-inflammatory proteins.
These are proteins that will show up when something drastic is happening to a human beings.
According to Professor Mojisola, chloroquine may not work when there is pro-inflammatory proteins but there is no data to prove that yet.
She noted that there are other findings to prove that chloroquine worked for many patients that have COVID-19, but the agency is yet to determine if the patients were at the early to mild stage.