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Stringent regulatory requirements prolong development of Ebola cure — Pharmacist

Abuja –  A pharmacist, Prof. Martins Emeje, said on Wednesday that stringent global regulatory requirements were one set of factors prolonging the development of the vaccine against the Ebola virus.

Emeje, who is the Head, Advanced Biology and Chemistry at the National Institute for Pharmaceutical Research and Development (NIPRD), said this in an interview in Abuja.

He said that a lot of research into the cure for the Ebola Virus infection had been ongoing since it was discovered in 1976.

“Classically, a typical pharmaceutical drug takes from 10 to 12 years for it to get to the market; so it’s a long process.

“In fact as we advance in knowledge, in science and in complexities, there is also advancement and complexity in how we do peer review, quality control, quality assurance and how we regulate ourselves as well as the things we use like drugs.

“If you look at regulatory requirements today by the food and drug administration of different countries including ours, which is NAFDAC, you will see that there is greater requirement today.

“Therefore, the requirement to meeting what the regulatory authorities have set in place about 50 to 60 years ago is not what is required today.

“There are more stringent requirements today, therefore it is more difficult to come up with new drugs today than it was 60 years ago.“

Emeje said that such stringent requirement were the reasons drugs approved over the years for certain `indications’ were being studied for possible use in the treatment of new diseases.

“In fact there are a lot of studies that have already been carried out on the use of core drugs that are already approved for treating known ailments; there is a possibility of using some of these in treating Ebola.

“There are some drugs that we use for treating, for example hypertension, that are being investigated and some of them have been found to be useful in managing or treating Ebola.

“The reason why we say there is no cure and treatment for Ebola right now is because there is yet to be a drug that has gone through the complete phase of drug development.

“From pre-clinical to clinical, going through the phases of all clinical trials in order for it to be approved and given the green light that it can now go for public use where public health and health professionals will start to give to patients.“

The pharmacist, however, said that it was expected that there would be a candidate drug for clinical trial in September which had been in the front burner before the sudden outbreak in Nigeria.

He was optimistic that now that the disease is affecting the world’s most populous black nation, the world would finally find a solution to the disease.

According to him, from the kind encouragement given by the Minister of Health, Prof. Onyebuchi Chukwu, Nigerian scientists and researchers were working to find a cure for the virus.

He, however, urged Nigerians to observe good hygiene especially hand washing with soap while the research work on developing a cure for Ebola was ongoing.

Emeje is a member of the Treatment Research Committee on Ebola set up by the Minister of Health, Prof. Onyebuchi Chukwu, to fast-track research on getting a vaccine to eliminate the Ebola virus. (NAN)


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