A few hours after President Donald Trump said chloroquine had been approved to treat COVID-19, the demand for the drug increased in stores across Lagos and Abuja. In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, health experts had dismissed speculations that chloroquine could be used in fighting the virus, but at a press conference on Thursday, Trump said the drug had gone through the approval process, a statement contrary to that of Stephen Hahn, the commissioner for Food and Drug Administration who maintained that chloroquine would still need to go through clinical trials.
Chloroquine, an oral artemisinin-based monotherapies (oAMTs) for malaria treatment, could become a scarce commodity in a matter of days. TheCable observed how people were rushing to get the drugs on Thursday evening.
At Chris Health Pharmacy, Onilekere area of Lagos, the store owner who gave his name as Chris said he was yet to understand why people trooped in to buy chloroquine.
“I have about 20 packs left and all finished this evening. In fact, only one person bought 15 packs. He said he would return tomorrow when I have more,” he told TheCable.
Chris who appeared not to have followed the news lately asked: “Please, what is happening? Why are people buying chloroquine?”
At the Ojota/Ogudu axis, people also rushed to buy chloroquine. When TheCable visited Neat Line Pharmacy on Ogudu road, the attendant said the available drug was not for adults but Children.
A lady who came in and bought six chloroquine syrup for children said: “They said it was 50:50 cure for coronavirus before, but the US president confirmed today that it should be used for coronavirus. I’m sure the prices would go up immediately.”
A pharmacy at Jendol Superstores in Isheri Olofin, chloroquine was not available but a roadside shop had it at the rate of N150 per sachet. When TheCable visited Abek Pharmacy at Old Ipaja road in Agege, the attendant said chloroquine was still available also at the rate of N150.
At Christhes Pharmacy along Ijegun-Ikotun road, Alimosho, the attendant said chloroquine was also available but sold for N250
One of the store owners in Ijegun who identified himself as Moses said the drug has been in high demand as he had received more orders in just six hours.
The product was unavailable at Skylife Standard Pharmacy on college road, Ogba. The pharmacist said: “People rushed in to buy this evening as soon the announcement was made that it could cure coronavirus.”
Three of the pharmacies in Garki area of Abuja were selling the drug within the price range of N200 to N250, while it sold for N500 in another.
At Glotop Pharmacy, located close to Apo legislative quarters, the drug was already sold out at the rate of N500.
“It was not in high demand before but people have been rushing it,” an official at the pharmacy said.
At Augustina Medical Complex in Durumi, the drug was sold at N200 even as the attendant said there has not been any noticeable difference in the demand.
It was the same situation at Dorathyl Pharmacy, also in Durumi, except that it sold sold for N250.
The last packet was being sold for N150 as TheCable got to Zochem Pharmacy in Abuja. The store owner, however, said he has placed orders for more and from Friday, he would sell for N500 or even more.
The drug was sold out at Jessi-Jen pharmacy in Abuja but at the Eleventh Pharmacy also in Abuja, a packet that used to be N300 is now selling for N800.