Residents of Nigeria’s two biggest cities, Lagos and Abuja, are in a mad rush for chloroquine after U.S. President Donald Trump suggested that the anti-malaria drug could be used to treat the novel coronavirus.
Following his announcement at a press conference on Thursday, drug stores across the cities were besieged by local folks to acquire the drug.
Trump says a common drug used to treat malaria has shown very encouraging early results in treating #coronavirus.
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— Sky News (@SkyNews) March 19, 2020
Trump said the drug had gone through the approval process despite FDA Commissioner Steven Hahn stating categorically that he is still looking at data around numerous drugs to determine if they can be used to treat COVID-19.
Hahn also maintained that chloroquine would still need to go through clinical trials.
“One of the things that we promised the American people as we will collect the data and make the absolute right decisions based upon those data about the safety and efficacy of the treatments,” Hahn said. “We are working expeditiously and we are working to make sure these products are as safe and effective as they possibly can be.”
Meanwhile, local media reports that notable drug stores scattered across the cities were astonished by how people thronged in to purchase the drug on Thursday.
“I have about 20packs left and all finished this evening. In fact, only one person bought 15 packs. He said he would return tomorrow when I have more,” a drug store owner told local reporters.
The storekeeper identified as Chris who appeared not to have followed the news lately, asked: “Please, what is happening? Why are people buying chloroquine?”
A proprietor of another notable store in Okoto, a suburb of Lagos said that the drugs have been scarce in the market for a while and the increase in demand will drive up prices.
“A lot of people are asking for it but I don’t have it, it’s very scarce,” he said. “Prices are sure going to go up now.”
The cost of Chloroquine has increased from around $1 to $2.20. The Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria is yet to react to Trump’s claim.
Meanwhile, the Center for Disease Control in Nigeria has announced four new cases of COVID-I9 taking its total number of affected cases to 12.
Today, 4 new cases of #COVID19 were confirmed in Nigeria; a total of 12 confirmed cases in Nigeria
We urge Nigerians to remain calm. Please adhere to recommendations by health authorities including handwashing, self isolation for returning travelers and others pic.twitter.com/WMznwl2UyA
— NCDC (@NCDCgov) March 19, 2020