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COVID-19: Lagos to commence clinical trial of Chloroquine as NAFDAC orders emergency production

Clinical trial for the usage of Chloroquine in the treatment of Coronavirus is to start in Lagos, Nigeria’s most populous city that has become the epicenter of the disease in the country, as drug manufacturers are ordered to commence immediate production of the drug.

This morning, Moji Adeyeye, director-general, National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) said in a statement directing manufacturers to commence production of Cholorquine, that the old antimalarial known for a range of side effects in some users is being repurposed for the clinical trial treatment of Coronavirus.

According to Adeyeye, other researchers in France and the US have used the drug for the clinical trial treatment of COVID-19 and they reported the effectiveness of the drug. “Lagos State will be starting a clinical trial on chloroquine to evaluate the effectiveness,” she said.

Drug manufacturers in Nigeria are to start producing the drug for emergency stock and usage in the possible clinical trial treatment of Coronavirus across Nigeria, as the disease gradually spreads beyond earlier expectations, triggering the total lockdown of states such as Lagos, Ogun, Abuja for 14 days.

Chloroquine works by increasing endosomal pH from the acidic environment required for virus/cell fusion, resulting in the inhibition of infection of SARS-CoV. It also interferes with the glycosylation of cellular receptor, angiotensin-converting enzyme 2. This may inhibit the virus-receptor binding and terminate the infection. The antiviral and anti-inflammatory effects of chloroquine contribute to the efficacy in treating COVID-19 patients, she said, explaining how the drug works in combating the disease.

NAFDAC, however, emphasised the need for the public to “desist from its use without the guidance of a medical doctor or clinician for cases of clinical trial treatment of COVID-19”. It stressed the drug has side effects such as gastrointestinal upset, blurred vision, headache, and pruritis (itching). Prolonged use can also cause retinopathy or vision impairment.

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