Nigerian officials say the price of the anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine which has been touted by some as treatment for coronavirus has skyrocketed.
The country’s Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission said an audit of prices of the drug across the country showed an astonishing rise in price over the last four months.
A packet of 60 tablets selling for 3,000 naira ($8; £6) four months ago are now selling at 75,000 naira ($194; £147) in pharmacies.
The commission published on its Twitter account details of these high prices calling the trend “excessive and unconscionable pricing”.
It also said that “unreasonable, unjust and irrational prices or margins are a criminal offence” in Nigeria.
Price Gouging, Unreasonable and Arbitrary Increases in Prices of Protective and Hygiene Products on Account of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Concerns pic.twitter.com/rBluCByKez
— FCCPC Nigeria (@fccpcnigeria) August 4, 2020
Since the outbreak of the coronavirus, there have been claims by some health experts that hydroxychloroquine can help in preventing and treatment the deadly virus.
The World Health Organization (WHO) however said the drug doesn’t reduce death rates in patients with coronavirus.
There were early studies raising hopes of the effectiveness of the drug but the WHO halted its trials months ago.
WHO said it took the decision due to safety reasons. “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 Nigeria was one of the African countries that refused to halt its clinical trials of the drug, hoping it can help in treating patients with the virus.
Last month a Nigerian-born doctor, Stella Immanuel made the headlines after her passionate plea for health practitioners across the world to use hydroxychloroquine for the treatment of Covid 19.
In a video that went viral on social media, she argued in support of the controversial treatment despite warnings from other experts including the FDA in America.
According to the FDA in America, hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine as a treatment for COVID-19 patients had no benefits.
Immanuel spoke of her experience treating COVID-19 patients with hydroxychloroquine and her belief in its effectiveness.