From Fred Ezeh, Abuja
National Institute for Pharmaceutical Research and Development (NIPRD) has insisted that homegrown response to COVID-19 pandemic remains the best, appealing to stakeholders to support research institutions to develop homegrown remedies for COVID-19 and other public health issues.
NIPRD made references to Niprimune capsule, a product it developed shortly before the index case of COVID-19 in Nigeria, that has proven to be effective in the treatment of COVID-19 but the support has not come for a final clinical trial of the pharmaceutical product.
The Director-General of NIPRD, Dr Obi Adigwe, told journalists in Abuja, on Monday, that he was ‘heartbroken’ a few days ago when Thailand approved the use of a product made of an active ingredient used in the formulation of Niprimune capsule for the treatment of COVID-19.
He said: ‘I am seriously ‘heartbroken’ with the development. It validates the saying that we don’t trust and value our own. A few years ago, we used our artificial intelligence capacity to identify that Niprimune may have activity in the treatment and management of people who come down with COVID-19.
‘We, then, appealed to over 30 development partners, philanthropists and other funding agencies for funds that would enable us to undertake the remaining scientific activities that would enable us to present the product to Nigerians, confidently, for COVID-19 management but that never come.
‘A few days ago, Thailand approved active ingredients of Niprimune for treatment of COVID-19. We were the first in the world to come up with a hypothesis that Niprimune is effective for the treatment of COVID-19, but support never comes to enable us to complete the relevant scientific research on the product. I am heartbroken.
‘Our formulation is more sophisticated than the one approved in Thailand. Besides, the case fatality ratio in Thailand is less than the case in Nigeria. It means that our challenge is funding support. We finished the pre-clinical trial of Niprimune few years ago and it proved to be effective in treating viral diseases in the class of COVID-19. All we need is support for final clinical trials. It was only an organization from Burkina Faso that responded to our request.’
Notwithstanding, Dr Adigwe, said that NIPRD has put up measures to support the Federal Government particularly in the clinical trials of the COVID-19 vaccine when it eventually arrives Nigeria.
He said: ‘If the President, Muhammadu Buhari, directs that we do due analysis on the vaccine when it eventually arrives, be rest assured that our findings would be world-class.’
Meanwhile, NIPRD’s head of Pharmaceutical Technology and Raw Materials Development department, Prof Martins Emeje, in his remarks said that the COVID-19 vaccine could spring up different development.
‘It could be suitable for them and otherwise could be the case for us. It could be more toxic for our people because enough samples were not considered in Nigeria in the development of the vaccine.’