Announcement led to stockpiling and panic buying of chloroquine
President Donald Trump who made the disclosure said the availability of the drug will be hastened in order to forestall the spread of the virulent infection.
Trump’s pronouncement was not the first time chloroquine would be mentioned as a cure for coronavirus. Earlier in the year, there were assertions of the anti-malaria drug being an antidote to the virulent infection but this assertions were hinged on conjectures and conspiracy theories and not anchored on well-founded, painstaking and comprehensive scientific research like the one embarked on by the united state’s Food and Drug Administration which turned the chloroquine-as-cure-for-coronavirus theory into a fact.
The information sent a shock wave across Nigeria especially in Lagos with many wondering how an anti-malaria drug whose efficacy and popularity has been eroded, on the one hand, by the massive production of different variants of more potent and ubiquitous artemether Lumefertrin, and on the other hand, by the itchiness, it engendered on the body of its user, which consequently made it lose its appeal. It was then subsequently sent into pharmaceutical oblivion.
In what was a spontaneous course of action and could be likened to the goldrush witnessed in the US in the first half of the 19 century after Americans in their thousands trooped to the confederate state of California in search gold, Lagosians besieged pharmacies to purchase the hitherto abandoned anti-malaria drug.
Noticing how demand for the drug has skyrocketed, some pharmacies who had the drug began to engage in price gouging and hoarding while those who were not abreast of the development maintained their prices.
LagosTimes went around Lagos to access the situation and observe how people were rushing to purchase the drug.
At Judex pharmacy in Agege, a sales boy who identified himself as chukwuma was in charge. He told LagosTimes that he noticed the high demand for the drug but could not fathom the reason for that because the drug had been neglected for a while now. He added that about 10 people came to by the drug on Thursday while another 5 came yesterday
“I don’t know why people are rushing the drug,” he said “our boss stop buying the drug in bulk after the demand for it dwindle because it ends up expiring in store. we only have one or two packs so as not lose a customer who still fancies it as a treatment for malaria”
“But in the past two days we have sold more chloroquine than we have sold in the past six months,” He said
When asked if the upsurge in demand has led to a price increase, he answered in the affirmative saying “the price was between 100 to 150 before the upsurge in demand but they are now selling for 250 or 300”
At fabony store in Agege/Ikeja Axis, the pharmacy had run out of the product with the owner saying he was a shock when his daughter who heads the pharmacy told him chloroquine had finished.
“We had 20 packs this evening but now everything is gone,” he said “one person bought 5 packs”
He said people had been coming since the announcement was made but they had run out of stock, adding that they were looking at how soon they can restock.
At IBU pharmacy in Ogba close to the Sunday market, the situation was slightly different owing to the location of the pharmacy which was situated in a covert part of the street thus shielding it from the sights of passersby.
When LagosTimes visited the pharmacy the attendant disclosed that there had been nothing unusual in the purchase of the drug adding that only two people had come in to purchase the drug and they were not irrational in there purchase. She added that the pharmacy still had 20 packs of chloroquine
“Just two people have stepped in to buy the drug and they bought one sachet each which is normal,” She said “Probably the news has not circulated, maybe when it does more people will come”
When LagosTimes Visited Sekinah pharmacy at fagba in Ifako Ijaye local government of Lagos state, the attendant said they did not have the chloroquine for an adult that the one they had was the syrup which is for children.
While speaking with the attendant a woman who should be in her late 30s waltzed into the pharmacy and ordered six bottles of the Chloroquine syrup. She said “the US president has confirmed the potency of the drug in treating Coronavirus. I know the price will go up any moment from now”
When LagosTimes visited Aku Udo pharmacy in Agege, the male attendant said the drug was available but for N500.
When asked what led to the price hike as the price was known to be between 150 and 200 couple of days earlier, he hesitated as though thinking of a plausible excuse to give then had a second thought and said he didn’t know what caused it.
At the renowned and respected Boluke pharmacy on old Lagos-Abeokuta Expressway, the attendant said they didn’t have the drug as they have stopped selling it even before the announcement was made.
She, however, said it would be available on Monday.
When asked how much the drug is likely to be sold when it is available, she said she didn’t know as she wasn’t the one that woukd determine that
The product was unavailable at Skylife Standard Pharmacy on college road, Ogba. The pharmacist said People swarmed the pharmacy on Thursday evening as soon the announcement was made that it could cure coronavirus.