Promoting Highest Ethical and Scientific
Standards for Health Research in Nigeria

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Dec 29

Statement on the Use of Chloroquine and other Drugs for Treating COVID-19

Statement on the Use of Chloroquine and other Drugs for Treating COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has shown the urgent need for the expansion of existing knowledge on
the COVID-19 virus and the development of a cure. Although there is no known cure for the
virus, scientists are currently investigating the use of chloroquine for the treatment of patients
showing mild-to-moderate symptoms of COVID-19. Chloroquine has previously been used for
treating malaria in Nigeria but was discontinued. It is currently recognised as appropriate
treatment for lupus and rheumatoid arthritis.
It is important to emphasise that investigations regarding its effectiveness in managing COVID-
19 are still ongoing and that there remains no clinically proven and approved cure or vaccine for
COVID-19 at this time. Clinical investigations must therefore be conducted in order to ascertain
the efficacy and safety of using chloroquine or any other drug to treat COVID-19

By virtue of the provisions of Section 33(6) of the National Health Act, the National Health
Research Ethics Committee is charged with the responsibility to develop guidelines for
establishing standards to be complied with when conducting research on humans and animals,
including clinical trials. Pursuant to these powers, the Committee has formulated the National
Code of Health Research Ethics which vests the Committee with the powers to ensure that all
research including clinical trials are conducted according to the highest ethical and
scientific standard. The National Code of Health Research Ethics provides for the parameters
for use of innovative or experimental treatment (see Section B, subsection (f)). The Guidelines
also provide for the oversight powers of the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration
and Control (NAFDAC) over clinical trials of medicines. In order to ensure that any drug offered
to the public as treatment for the virus is safe and effective in reducing the duration of symptoms
and combatting the virus, it is necessary for the drug to comply with both the guidelines issued
by NAFDAC and the National Code for Health Research Ethics.

NHREC therefore calls on Nigerians to desist from stockpiling chloroquine, using the drug
without prescription or outside of proper clinical management. Nigerians are also enjoined to
treat with care any claims or endorsements on the efficacy of any drugs purported to prevent,
diagnose or treat COVID-19 which have not passed through the necessary processes, including
but not limited to clinical trials, and/or received approvals from the relevant statutory agencies.
NHREC remains committed to ensuring that all clinical trials conducted in Nigeria adhere to the
highest ethical and scientific standard. NHREC therefore calls on all Nigerians to comply with
the guidance and advisories from the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (NCDC)
and the Federal Ministry of Health. Together, we can beat this pandemic – and we shall.


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