By Favour Olabanji
In its determination to discovered the truth, The Gazelle News.com continued its investigation into reasons for the sudden surge in the prices of chloroquine in the market.
This medium having discovered that the price of the drug soared after it was announced that it can be used to cure Covid-19, aa exemplified in our earlier report on Ojo Local Government.
We went further to investigate if the producers of the drug are behind the arbitrary increase in price.
The Gazelle News.com discovered that an earlier report haa stated that the National Agency for Food, Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) has only given its approval to May and Baker, a pharmaceutical company to produce Chloroquine as a clinical trial for the cure of Coronavirus.
Thus, considering the surge in price of the anti-malaria drug, this medium reached out May and Baker to confirm if there has been a hike in the rates it sold chloroquine to pharmacies.
According to Blessing, a customer care service attendant in the company, she explained that the organization has not hiked the price it sold chloroquine to pharmacies. According to her, “the price in the company remains the same”. She as well emphasised that whatever price the pharmacies sell is not the business of the company. She refused to let out the rates that May and Baker sells the drugs to pharmacies with the claim that she was not in the position to to reveal the price the company sells the anti-Malaria drug to pharmacies.
When Babatunde Irukera, Chief Executive Officer of the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC) (formerly Consumer Protection Council) was reached to confirm if the commission is aware of the hike in the price of chloroquine in pharmacies, he said, “We have set up a Covid-19 Response platform where people can log this type of feedback so we can pursue enforcement as we are against many right now. We have also filed criminal charges against four major supermarkets/pharmacies on price hikes and gathering detailed about others”
Also from earlier reports, it was noted that the surge in price of Chloroquine was discovered in an Covid-19 free LG (Ojo Local Government) in Lagos State.
Therefore, The Gazelle News.com went further to seek clarification on regulation of prices of pharmaceutical drugs by Pharmacist Association and to know whether the association is aware of the price hike.
The Chairman, Association of Community Pharmacists of Nigeria (Lagos Chapter), Pharm. Obideyi Olabanji was contacted. According to him, “Association of Community Pharmacists of Nigeria does not regulate price of drugs”.
On hike in price of chloroquine, he confirmed that the association was aware. He explained that the pronouncement of the alleged efficacy of the drug to cure coronavirus was partly responsible coupled with the fact that the drug being short supply since NAFDAC outlawed its being taken as anti-Malaria drug.
He further explained that last, “In Nigeria of today, I am not aware that prices of commodities including medicines are regulated because government does not subsidize them like we have in the petroleum sector. More importantly, I need to say that beside the physical cost of drugs and the margin, there are cost elements that a pharmacist needs to factor in such as counselling/consultation cost for those practising ethically. This more or less will amount to nothing in the case of low cost drug as chloroquine. One certainly that cannot be ruled out is the influence of increase in demand for chloroquine contributing to its arbitrary price increase. As an association we have always preached against price gouging for essential drugs needed by the populace especially during this COVID-19 pandemic”.
This evidently showed that the price of the anti-Malaria drug has not been hiked by the solely authorised producers in Nigeria, May and Baker.
The Gazelle News.com can confirmed that pharmacies have decided to hike the price of chloroquine at will due to the pronouncement of its need as a clinical trial for the cure of coronavirus as symbolised with what happened in a Covid-19 Free Local Government like Ojo.
Despite the preachings against price gouging for essential drugs by the Association of Pharmacist of Nigeria as noted by Pharm Obideyi Olabanji, pharmacies have leveraged on the potential of the chloroquine drug as a clinical trial for the cure of Covid-19 to hike the price of the drug.
This, has therefore, made it difficult to purchase by the common man