By Adebayo Folorunsho-Francis –
In a bid to encourage patients complete the full course of treatment for malarial infection, Novartis Pharma has launched one of its biggest anti-malarial brands, Coartem® 80/480.
In a colourful event held at the Muson Centre recently, Mrs Vera Nwanze, head of Novartis Pharma (Nigeria & Ghana), explained that the new-look Coartem 80/480 has been specially designed to reduce the number of tablets to be taken from the old regime of 24 doses to six.
Among the dignitaries who attended the ceremony were Mrs Maureen Edigbeyi, representative of NAFDAC; Pharm. Bola Oyawole, representative of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN); Pharm. Olufemi Adebayo, chairman of the Association for Community Pharmacists of Nigeria (ACPN); and Pharm. IfeanyiAtueyi, chairman of the occasion.
According to Nwanze, people often dislike swallowing a large number of tablets and therefore miss a dose or stop treatment altogether, leaving them vulnerable to re-infection by the malaria parasite.
This view was further affirmed by Dr Linus Igwemezie, executive vice president and head of the Novartis Malaria Initiative, who hinted that Nigeria has one of the highest incidences of malaria globally and, together with the Democratic Republic of Congo, it accounts for over 40 per cent of deaths from malaria worldwide.
“The launch of Coartem® 80/480 in Nigeria marks a new chapter in this battle, and promises to benefit many people with a convenient and quality treatment for malaria,” he said. “For over a decade, Novartis has been a pioneer in the fight against malaria. Besides, the rapid review and approval of the new formulation by the Nigerian health authorities has enabled it to be the first country to launch Coartem® 80/480.”
Commenting on how the new product can be distinguished from counterfeits, Igwemezie added that the Coartem® 80/480 packs feature an additional level of security popularly known as Mobile Authentication Service (MAS) label, which allows people to verify that the product is genuine.
“All the buyer simply needs to do is to scratch off the label to reveal a unique 12-digit number, which can then be texted, without cost, to 38353. Within seconds, a response is received, which informs them whether the code is valid,” he stressed.
In his presentation, Pharm. Atueyi declared that although reports on HIV/AIDS are said to be frightening, that of malaria is quite devastating.
“It is sad to note that the North Central and North Western parts of this country are worse hit. Only the South East can be truly said to be relatively free of the scourge.
“Chloroquin has fallen out of favour. Artemether-Lumefantrine is now regarded as the first line of treatment. I commend the effort of Novartis and challenge them to do more in the area of R&D because there is no guarantee that ACT will last forever,” he urged.
Atueyi also lauded Igwemeziefor his active role in the Nigerian Association of Pharmacists and Pharmaceutical Scientists in the Americas (NAPPSA) which brings together Nigerian pharmacists in the USA every year.