Antimalarial Drugs Ban

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The Nigeria office of the World Health Organisation and the National Malaria Control Programme, Federal Ministry Health, have dispelled fears of possible ban of Amalar antimalarial drugs.

Amalar tablets, composed of sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine (SP) was reported to have been prohibited along with other monotherapies for the treatment of malaria.

The report which created panic in the pharmaceutical market last week, was dispelled by the two bodies who denied its ban and reinstated its efficacy particularly in the malaria prevention and control in pregnancy.

Information officer of WHO, Dr Ola Soyinka denied the report, insisting that it was untrue. He explained that Amalar as well as other drugs with similar composition –Suifadoxine/ pyrimethamine is one of the most effective therapies for the prevention and control of malaria in pregnancy.

He said the WHO recommends that oral artemisinin-based monotherapy should be removed from the market because their use will hasten the development of parasite resistance .

In the same vein, Dr Jide Coker National Coordinator National Malaria Control programme Federal Ministry of Health, denied the ban, insisting that the National malaria policy of the ministry recommends the drugs for Intermittent Prevention Treatment IPT in pregnancy Malaria in pregnancy is a major cause of maternal morbidity worldwide and leads to poor birth outcomes.

Pregnant women are more prone to complications of malaria

infection than nongravid women.

WHO recommends a package of interventions for prevention and control of malaria during pregnancy. This comprises Intermittent Preventive Treatment (IPT) to address the heavy burden of asymptomatic infections among pregnant women residing in areas of moderate or high transmission of P. falciparum, use of insecticide treated nets (ITNs), and access to effective case management for malaria illness and anaemia.

Presently, sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine (SP) is the only antimalarial medicine for which data on efficacy and safety for IPT is available from controlled clinical trials, and WHO recommends that at least 2 doses of SP are given during regularly scheduled antenatal visits after the first trimester.

President Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria PSN Mr Azubuike Okwor said the drug procurement channels are highly fragmented resulting in too many antimalarials of varying quality on the market.

“Poor-quality medicines affect the health and lives of patients, damage the credibility of health services and, by generating sub-therapeutic drug levels in malaria patients, help develop resistance to this important life-saving class of pharmaceuticals”.

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