Price of Chloroquine, Sanitizers, others soars as demand peaks

March 23, 2020
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Demand for face masks, hand sanitizers and Chloroquine have skyrocketed in some major cities of the country following reported increased in the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases.

On March 23, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) confirmed 36 cases, with two cases being discharged while one death recorded from COVID-19 in the country.

However, the surge in the demand for these commodities has led to a sudden hike in the prices of face masks, hand sanitizers and Chloroquine by over 110 per cent.

A survey conducted around markets on Monday, reveals that Chloroquine, which was previously used to mainly prevent and treat malaria and sells for N5, 000, now goes for N12, 000 per 1,000 tablets.

The price of face mask has increased from N10, 000 to N150, 000 per carton while hand sanitizers rose from N300 to N600 for foreign products and from N150 to N400 for local products.

According to Chimezie Okpara, a dealer in the drug market, Chloroquine had hardly been sold in the market following its ban for treatment of malaria by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Nigerian Government.

“But with the coming of COVID-19 and the pronouncement that the drug could be used for clinical trials of patients who have contracted the disease, the price has gone so high in the market.

“The price went up from N5, 000 to N10, 000 for 1,000 tablets and we don’t know what the price may be later this week, especially when the product is not much in the market due to an earlier ban,” Okpara said.

He disclosed that face masks were earlier exported to China when the country closed down factories due to outbreak of the disease.

“However, the price later came down and later went up from N10,000 to N150, 000 when Nigeria started experiencing Coronavirus and the demand for it from all over the country suddenly increased,” he said.

Okpara added that the price of hand sanitizers rose because of the sensitization by government on its preventive efficacy.

Another drug trader, Okwudili Maduka, expressed worry over the panic buying of the products, even when it had not been proven that the drug could cure COVID-19.

Maduka ascribed the sudden surge for Chloroquine to a broadcast by President Donald Trump of the United States of America and Director-General of NAFDAC, Prof. Mojisola Adeyeye, that it could be used for clinical trials of COVID-19.

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