02.05.2005 General News

DEVAG vindicated for use of Artesunate in malaria treatment

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Accra, May 02, GNA - Mr Hans Rudolf Roth, founder of DEVAG Pharmaceutical Industry, has said the Ghana Health Service (GHS) recognition of combination of Artesunate and Amodiaquine as a drug of choice in the treatment of malaria is a vindication of DEVAG's stand 12 years ago.

He said DEVAG introduced Artesuante, produced by Guilin Pharmaceutical Works in 1993, registered it with the Pharmacy Board but the Ministry of Health refused to accept it as an essential drug for the treatment of malaria.

"Efforts to have Artesunate placed on the essential drugs list approved by the MOH for the importation and purchase of drugs to government controlled hospitals and clinics were unsuccessful.

"DEVAG was told that MOH was considering Chloroquine and Sulfadoxine pyrimethamine as first line treatment in the prevention and cure of malaria. Artesunate was to be considered as a mere least resort treatment, not to be covered by official approval," Mr Roth told newsmen in Accra.

Mr Roth said it was unfortunate for MOH to attempt to sneak Artesunate as a new drug instead of admitting its failure to recognise the drug 12 years ago as well as commend DEVAG for introducing the drug into the Ghanaian market.

He said it was evident 12 years ago that chloroquine had become resistance-prone and most medical personnel were aware of this, especially the private practitioners, who resorted to the use of Artesunate.

Mr Roth urged the NMCP to recognise DEVAG's pioneering role in the introduction of Artesunate into the Ghanaian market and to "stop claiming that it's a new drug."

He recalled that Artesunate was officially launched by China National Pharmaceutical Foreign Trade Corporation in conjunction with DEVAG in Kumasi in August 1993 and published in the Ghanaian media including The Pioneer in August 10th 1993 edition. He said Prof Kwame Sarpong, then Dean of the Faculty of Pharmacy, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, was the guest of honour.

On the selection of local pharmaceutical companies to produce the drugs locally, Mr Roth commended the government for the idea and urged producers to depend on original raw materials.

He said Artemisinine extracted from the Chinese herb, Qinghaosu, is very sensitive and requires care during the production process. Mr Lawrence K. Atsyor, Superintendent Pharmacist of DEVAG, said the use of artemisinin-based combination in the treatment of malaria had distinct advantages.

It has no documented parasite resistance and has proved to be very effective in treating malaria.

He appealed to the government to waive taxes on imported raw materials for the production of anti-malaria drugs to reduce the high cost of such drugs.

GHS recently said a combination of Artesunate and Amodiaquine would replace chloroquine as a drug of choice in the treatment of malaria. GHS said it was to meet World Health Organization standards that recommend the use artemisinin combination of drugs in treating malaria.

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