Dr Stella Emmanuel’s hydroxychloroquine claim not evidence-based -Pharmacists

Adebayo Folorunsho-Francis

The Clinical Pharmacists Association of Nigeria says Dr. Stella Emmanuel’s claim that she has treated over 350 patients of COVID-19 with a combination of hydrochloroquine, zinc and zithromax is not enough to form a conclusion with respect to evidence-based medicine.

A video of the controversial doctor along with other medics from a group called America’s Frontline Doctors in which they claimed that the anti-malaria drug could treat COVID-19 went viral on July 28.

“Nobody needs to get sick. This virus has a cure – it is called hydroxychloroquine. I have treated over 350 patients and not had one death,” Emmanuel had declared in the clip.

The viral video sparked global outrage after it was retweeted by President Donald Trump, but it was consequently pulled down by Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms for violating policies on COVID-19 misinformation.

Speaking with PUNCH HealthWise, National Chairman of CPAN, Dr. Joseph Madu, cautioned Nigerians against seeing the video as an endorsement of the drug as cure for COVID-19.

He declared that CPAN, the umbrella body for clinical pharmacists with the responsibility for prevention, detection and provision of potential drug therapy, frowned against the misinformation.

“It is imperative to emphasize that hydroxychloroquine can best be tagged a promising drug but not a certified cure for COVID-19.

“What Dr. Stella Emmanuel and others said is what we referred to as expert opinion in science. It is not enough to form conclusions with respect to evidence-based medicine.

“While it is true that hydroxychloroquine is among the drugs used in some treatment and isolation centres in Nigeria and other countries, there are equally global claims that the drug has not proven effective in COVID-19 treatment,” he said.

The clinical pharmacist disclosed that reports and counter reports about the effectiveness and safety of Dr. Emmanuel’s preferred drug has seemingly been politicized.

“It is important to note that hydroxychloroquine has not been endorsed as a COVID-19 cure based on any study by relevant health authorities like the FDA, NAFDAC and WHO saddled with approving medications for safety and effectiveness in the management of ailments.

“Let me stress that this particular antimalarial drug and some other pharmaceutical cocktails such as those from the Plateau State COVID-19 research team, Lagos State research officials, NIPRD, NIMR and many others are still undergoing clinical trials in Nigeria,” he said.

Madu said people should avoid the “irresponsible practice of self-medication with chloroquine, hydroxychloroquine or other drugs” without the supervision of a doctor or licensed pharmacist.

“The salt and water Ebola saga that negatively affected the health of many gullible Nigerians should not be forgotten too soon.

“Chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine is at best a promising drug but not a cure for COVID-19.

“As front-liners in health care, CPAN shall continue to work assiduously in order to enhance the quality of life of the citizenry in general and COVID-19 patients in particular,” he said.

Madu also disclosed that the results of ongoing trials on orthodox and alternative medicine would soon be made public in due course.

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