Nigerian officials have said they intend to continue with their planned clinical trials on anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine on Covid-19 patients.
The World Health Organization (WHO) had said on Monday that it was halting a similar trial because of safety fears.
“The Executive Group has implemented a temporary pause of the hydroxychloroquine arm within the Solidarity Trial while the safety data is reviewed by the Data Safety Monitoring Board,” said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
But the director of Nigeria’s National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (Nafdac), Mojisola Adeyeye, told the media in Nigeria that she does not dispute WHO’s conclusions but they want to generate their own data.
She was quoted as saying that “I do not know the data that they’re looking at, whether it’s from the Caucasian population or from the African population.
If the data they’re looking at and the reason for suspending the trials is from Caucasian population, then it may be justified. But I don’t think we have data from the African population yet, because our genetic make up is different.”
Prof Adeyeye said the clinical trials will be concluded in three to four months.
The WHO chief, Ghebreyesus had said that the WHO initiated its “Solidarity Trial” to evaluate the safety and efficacy of four drugs and drug combinations against COVID-19.
The WHO said more than 400 hospitals in 35 countries had recruited patients, and nearly 3,500 patients had been enrolled from 17 countries to test the drug.
But a study published in the Lancet peer-reviewed journal looked at over 96,000 virus patients and found a higher risk of abnormal heartbeats, or arrhythmias, that could cause a heart attack in those treated with hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine.
Tedros said the Lancet report researchers found a higher mortality rate among patients receiving the drug when used alone or with a macrolide.
“I wish to reiterate that these drugs are accepted as generally safe for use in patients with autoimmune diseases or malaria,” said Tedros.