Health

May 28, 2024

Silent crisis: 6m Nigerians have thyroid disease, say experts

Silent crisis: 6m Nigerians have thyroid disease, say experts

 …Merck brings care to patients with Euthyrox

By Juliet Umeh

Despite the prevalence of thyroid disease in Nigeria, awareness of the disease has remained low even as the patients encounter challenges seeking treatment due to the unavailability of proper drugs. This is coming as experts say that about 300 million people live with this condition in the world while two to six million Nigerians are living with it.

Thyroid disease is a general term for a medical condition that keeps one’s thyroid from making the right number of hormones while hyperthyroidism, also called overactive thyroid, is a condition where one’s thyroid releases high levels of thyroid hormone.

However, while a pharmaceutical company, Merck , unveiled a drug  ‘Euthyrox’ to help patients living with this condition get proper care, a Consultant Physician at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, LUTH, Prof. Olufemi Fasanmade, said that the World has about 300 million people that suffer from thyroid diseases and Nigeria has probably between two million and six million people that also have thyroid disease.

Fasanmade said, “The world has about 300 million people that suffer from thyroid diseases and Nigeria has probably between two to six million people that also have thyroid disease.

“Unfortunately, about 60 percent to 80 percent of them are not diagnosed, and of those diagnosed, most are not properly controlled. Either because of ignorance or because of a lack of the finances to continue the treatment.

“To bring care to patients who have hypothyroidism in Nigeria, a pharmaceutical company, Merck, has introduced Euthyrox in the country. This is the first time that a company is bringing in a branded product of high quality to the market for the care of people who have hypothyroidism.

“Before now, a lot of the products for the treatment of hypothyroidism were either not NAFDAC approved or they were smuggled into the country.

“And unfortunately, because our patients just have to have the treatment, they use anything available. Some substandard, some smuggled, some compounded through companies that are not recognized by the authorities.”

In his speech, the Country General Manager for Merck in West Africa and the Managing Director for Merck Nigeria, Mr Charles Ajibo, explained: “Euthyrox is called Lipothiropine, it is a product used for hypothyroidism. We have had a desire to bring care to a lot of patients who have hypothyroidism.

Normally in Nigeria, you have to go through the best process which is to register the product with NAFDAC. So, we did some market research and found out the population of people who don’t care and how much people suffer to get products.

“A lot of products were available as trial imports or generic trials from different parts of the world so we took time to finalize our relationship with NAFDAC and today we are happy to provide the product in the country.”

Why women are more affected

Speaking on why women are more affected by the disease than men, a UK endocrinologist from Newcastle University, Dr Salman Razvi, said: “Women are about five to six times more commonly affected with thyroid disease in general, but that’s not unique to thyroid disease.

It’s because in most autoimmune conditions, where the body’s immune system, which is meant to fight foreign bodies such as infections, starts to recognise the body’s parts as the foreigners and starts to attack it, hence the term autoimmune.

“So almost all autoimmune conditions are more common in women, we don’t exactly know why that is, and hypothyroidism as well as certain autoimmune hyperthyroidism conditions are more common in women,” he explained.

To strengthen relationships and drive business growth, SKG Pharma Limited, hosted its annual Trade Partners Conference in Lagos last week. The event brought together distributors from across Nigeria, including Kano, Abuja, Lagos, Enugu, Aba, Onitsha, and Kaduna. The conference focused on areas of improving relationships to drive business growth.

Speaking, Managing Director of SKG Pharma, Dr. Okey Akpa, emphasised the importance of these partnerships.

“Our Trade Partners are integral to our success. We are committed to fostering these relationships to ensure mutual growth and prosperity,” said  Akpa.

The conference featured various sessions focusing on strategies to improve business relationships and foster growth. Participants exchanged ideas and shared best practices on distribution, customer service, and market expansion.  Trade Partners also expressed their appreciation for the event. Mrs. Edith Nwachukwu, Managing Director, Audion Pharmacy, Lagos, said: “This conference provides an excellent platform for networking and learning. We are excited about the opportunities that lie ahead with SKG Pharma.”

Similarly, Mr. Steve Ozioko, Managing Director of New Health Pharmacy, Abuja, added: “We value our partnership with SKG Pharma and look forward to achieving greater heights together.”

One of the highlights of the conference was the award ceremony recognizing top-performing trade partners. Audion Pharmacy clinched the top prize at the National Awards, a testament to their outstanding performance and dedication.

In addition to the awards, SKG Pharma used the occasion to introduce a new painkiller, Novadex Extra, into the market. Pharm. Victoria Okon, Head of Marketing at SKG Pharma, said: “Novadex Extra, a combination of paracetamol and caffeine, comes in 100 caplets.

It offers fast and effective relief for pain such as headaches, back pains, muscular aches, and toothaches.”

With over 50 household pharmaceutical brands already in the market, SKG Pharma continues to solidify its position as a leading player in the industry. The annual Trade Partners Conference underscores the company’s dedication to fostering strong partnerships and driving growth in the pharmaceutical sector.