More falsified chloroquine found in Africa, says WHO

Falsified chloroquine – billed as a possible treatment for coronavirus infections – has now been identified in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Niger as well as Cameroon, says the World health Organization (WHO).

The UN agency says it has received nine reports of chloroquine products that have been confirmed as fake via its global surveillance programme, all of which had reached the hands of patients.

Three chloroquine counterfeits were found in Cameroon a couple of weeks ago, but the WHO says it has also uncovered two fake 250mg products in DRC – ostensibly produced by Dawa Ltd and Brown & Burk Pharmaceutical Ltd – and four 100mg products in Niger with no stated manufacturer.

The Dawa product found in DRC had a batch number of 1605059, an expiry of 04/2023 and a date of manufacture of 05/2019, while for the Brown & Burk fake those were 065622, 11/2022 and 11/2018, respectively.

The Niger fakes included products labelled as Samquine – a brand used by generic drugmaker Sam Pharma – and Niruquine, which may be a look-alike of an established chloroquine product sold as Nivaquine by Sanofi. There were also two unbranded chloroquine drugs.

The pack information of the Niger fakes is as follows:

  • Samquine: Batch NBJT01, Expiry Oct-2022, Date of manufacture Nov-2019;
  • Niruquine: Batch Unknown, Expiry 08/2022, Date of manufacture 09/2019;
  • Chloroquine phosphate: Batch HV1116, Expiry May 2023; Date of manufacture June 2019; and
  • Chloroquine phosphate: Batch NBJT02, Expiry Oct-2022, Date of manufacture Nov-2019.

Antimalarial drugs like chloroquine are a perennial target for counterfeiters, but its clear that the panic over the coronavirus epidemic is driving a big increase in demand, and criminals are stepping up to exploit it.

“Large clinical trials are under way to generate the robust data needed to establish the efficacy and safety of chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine in the treatment of COVID-19,” says the WHO in its alert on the falsified versions.

“These medicines are currently authorised for malaria and certain autoimmune diseases and it is important that patients do not face shortages caused by stockpiling or use outside the authorised indications,” it adds.

The WHO is testing chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine as coronavirus therapies in its SOLIDARITY trial to try to establish their efficacy and safety in COVID-19 patients, but some countries – including the US – have approved emergency use during the pandemic.

In the meantime, concerns are increasing about the potential for serious side effects when used to treat people with underlying health issues such as cardiovascular disease.

Related articles:

     Want our news sent directly to your inbox?

Yes please 2


Home  |  About us  |  Contact us  |  Advertise  |  Links  |  Partners  |  Privacy Policy  |   |  RSS feed   |  back to top