Experts Dismiss Viral Fake SMS on P-Alaxin, Flays Perpetrators
…As Greenlife Holds Brand Awareness Programme
Experts in the healthcare sector, including Prof Arinola Joda of the Department of Clinical Pharmacy and Biopharmacy, Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), Dr Samuel Okerinde, a community health enthusiast and immediate past president, Association of Resident Doctors, LUTH; Dr Bowale Abimbola, chief medical director, Infectious Disease Hospital, Yaba, Lagos, and Pharm. Lawrence Ekhator, chairman of the Association of Community Pharmacists of Nigeria (ACPN), Lagos State, have dismissed a viral false claim making the rounds that the use of a popular anti-malaria drug ‘P-Alaxin’ was responsible for the death of an individual as it also causes kidney disease.
The expert who spoke at the ‘Brand Awareness for Improved Therapy’ programme organized by Greenlife Pharmaceuticals Limited, at the Civic Centre, Victoria Island, Lagos, noted that the claim is a false alarm targeted at demarketing the product and should be ignored in its entirety.
While speaking at the programme which had in attendance, healthcare practitioners from all walks of life, Prof Joda noted that P-Alaxin is a good anti-malaria brand, known for convenient dosing and very effective as people don’t come down with malaria quickly after using it because it gives post-treatment benefit up to over 60 days, and it is very affordable for the end users.
According to the University don, the information being spread about the product causing kidney disease is false and erroneous, adding that people should discard the false information whenever they get it as it is not only erroneous, but is fake in its entirety. “In any instance of the adverse effect that people may experience with any pharma product, they should endeavour to approach the pharmacovigilance unit of NAFDAC to report, so that legitimate claim can be analysed.
Joda also noted that people should not be too quick to forward a viral message. “I call it ‘fast fingers syndrome’, so people should desist from broadcasting a message they are yet to verify so that by the time the truth is established, they can feel happy for not sharing it”, she advised
Also speaking in the same vein, Pharm. Ekhator, frowned at the perpetrators of the fake message, stressing that P-Alaxin has been approved by NAFDAC for malaria treatment in Nigeria, and has remained a trusted brand that he has used and recommended as a professional over the years. “A lot of my clients have attested to the fact that the product is a positive and good brand that helps in the treatment of acute malaria in the country.
“Although things like this are not new to us in the country and it cannot be stopped because there are people out there that obviously thrive on disinformation, the only thing is for the brand to continually make sure that anything affecting their brand is adequately curtailed immediately its put out there.
In his presentation titled “Current Challenges in the Treatment of Malaria”, Dr Okerinde defined Malaria as an acute febrile illness caused by plasmodium parasites, adding that the protozoan is transmitted to human primarily through the bites of infected female Anopheles mosquitoes.
According to the Community Health Specialist, Malaria is a major global public health issue that is responsible for significant morbidity and mortality in areas where it is endemic, adding that about half of the world’s population is at risk of malaria. “According to the 2021 World Malaria Report, Nigeria had the highest number of global malaria cases 27 per cent of global malaria cases and the highest number of deaths, 32 per cent of global malaria deaths in 2020. The country accounted for an estimated 55.2 per cent of malaria cases in West Africa in 2020. In Nigeria 97 per cent of the population is at risk”.
Speaking on things to be considered before buying an anti-malaria brand, he noted that the brand’s reputation over time, the formulation, the source where the brand can be accessed, the authenticity of the brand as approved by the government and relevant agencies like NAFDAC, and expiry date should be the focus, adding that the hoax about P-Alaxin should be disregarded as the brand remains one of the safest and most efficacious ACTs from clinical evidence.
While speaking, the duo of Dr Abimbola, who was represented by Dr Tope Oguniyan, and Mrs Opeyemi Aniponle, a digital strategist, and managing partner, FeuilleBlanche Limited, noted that the negative effect of the viral message cannot be over-emphasised, adding that the best option is to nip it in the bud.
Speaking on ‘Danger of Fake News in the Pharmaceutical Industry, Pharm. (Dr) Wilfred Uche Okolie, marketing manager, Greenlife Pharmaceutical Limited, noted that the P-Alaxin hoax was first released in 2019 with a test message from an unknown and faceless source aiming to rubbish the efficacy and efficiency of the brand, adding that the message has continued to come back every year with a renewed effort to malign the brand.
He added that one of the objectives of the brand awareness programme was to address the misinformation among the experts and put it to rest, adding that the company has done a lot to disabuse the minds of people about the fake message and has also requested that anybody who might have fell victims of the product should come out so that the issue can be addressed, but no one has come out physically.
He added that in October 2022, Daily Trust did a fact-check story on the fake message and published an article which noted that “The claim was false. Findings show the drug is approved by the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration Control (NAFDAC) and there is no information on the major media platforms in the country that indicated that the drug has been responsible for the death of those who use it”.
He however noted that P-Alaxin is a synergistic fixed-dose combination of an artemisinin derivative, dihydroartemisinin (DHA) and a bisquinoline compound, piperaquine phosphate (PQP), for the treatment of uncomplicated Plasmodium falciparum malaria in adults, children, and infants 6 months and above either weighing 5 kg or more, and treatment of uncomplicated malaria due to other Plasmodium species, when chloroquine cannot be used, as well as completion and continuation treatment following parenteral therapy for severe malaria.
He further noted that Malaria kills millions of humans every year, and there is an increasing number of resistant cases to antimalarials including some ACTs, adding that It is the responsibility of all well-meaning healthcare professionals to protect the integrity of the few ACTs that are still effective, adding that P-Alaxin being one of the safest and most efficacious ACTs from clinical evidence should be protected by all.