The price of the anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine has skyrocketed in Nigeria, according to the government’s consumer protection body.
There’s been widespread interest in hydroxychloroquine as both a preventative measure and for treating patients with coronavirus but the World Health Organization (WHO) says the drug doesn’t reduce death rates in patients with coronavirus.
Despite the lack of evidence, the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission’s audit of prices across the country has observed an astonishing rise in the drug’s price in the last four months.
It found that – a packet of 60 tablets selling for 3,000 naira ($8; £6) four months ago – could be on sale in pharmacies for as much as 75,000 naira ($194; £147) now.
In a letter published on their Twitter account the body described “excessive and unconscionable pricing”.
It added that “unreasonable, unjust and irrational prices or margins are a criminal offence” in Nigeria.
Promotion by leading political figures such as US President Donald Trump has led to both hydroxychloroquine, and the related drug chloroquine, becoming the subject of widespread speculation online about their potential benefits and harmful effects.
This has led to high demand for the drugs and global supply shortages.
But despite some early studies raising hopes, one subsequent larger scale trial has shown it’s not effective as a treatment and the WHO has halted its trials.