There is hope for those living with Sickle Cell as the Federal Executive Council has given approval to the National Institute of Pharmaceutical Research and Development (NIPRD), and May and Baker Plc. to speed up the commercialisation and marketing of their anti-sickle cell drug, Niprisan.
The minister of health Professor Isaac Adewole disclosed this while addressing state house correspondents at the end of the FEC meeting which held at the Presidential Villa in Abuja.
It is estimated that about 25% of Nigerians carry the sickle cell gene and that over 2 million people in the country have sickle cell anaemia. For many of these people, when their crisis hit they develop more medical complications and some eventually die because they can’t access the necessary drugs.
The Minister of Health said that the approval given to NIPRD and May and Baker Plc. was given with the aim of reducing the burden of the disease in Africa and other parts of the world where the disease is common.
According to him, the drug was first used in Oyo State for over 20 years and NIPRD conducted clinical trials to ensure that they were able to adequately document that the drug is safe and effective. The drug was then licensed at an international organisation which later went bankrupt.
He stated that what they have done is to “reactivate the product which will now be marketed in Nigeria. Through this agreement we believe that the marketing and production in Nigeria will bring comfort to many Nigerians who are infected by sickle cell disease”.
Professor Adewole also disclosed that the Federal Government has approved the establishment of a department of Traditional Medicine in the Federal Ministry of Health.
The Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria has expressed its pleasure by congratulating all pharmacists and pharmaceutical scientists in NIPRD for achieving this milestone, and encouraged other manufacturers to come and take up the remaining 7 products in the custody of NIPRD for commercialisation.
They also appealed to the Federal Government to support research and development for the benefit of the patients and general improvement of the health care system.