BRITISH Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory Agency (MHRA) officials have begun investigating a claim which appears to have originated in Nigeria that a cure for the dreaded coronavirus has been found and can be purchased online for £79.99.
With the ongoing spread of the coronavirus, popularly known as Copvid-19, several Nigerian scientists have claimed that they have found a cure for it. In addition, a UK registered website is claiming that is has a pharmaceutical remedy, claiming that Chinese and French doctors recommend taking 500 mg of chloroquine phosphate for eight days to overpower coronavirus.
Following the website’s wild but unsubstantiated claim, MHRA officials have launched a probe as the site is not an officially licensed supplier for the drug. According to the MHRA, it had shut down more than 26,000 websites involved in the illegal sale of medicines in Britain and removed more than 20,000 adverts and social media accounts over the past decade.
An MHRA spokesman said: “This website is now under investigation by the MHRA. Websites offering to supply prescription medicines without a prescription are not only breaking the law but are putting the health of patients at risk.”
In the two-minute WhatsApp voice message, an unidentified voice alleges that Chinese and French doctors recommend taking 500 mg of chloroquine phosphate for eight days to overpower the coronavirus. The man, speaking English in a Nigerian accent, urges people to rush to any pharmacy and buy the drug.
His message featured a picture of a box of chloroquine phosphate tablets. Investigators tracked the image to www.coronavirusmedication.co.uk, which sells packs of the drug for £79.99 ($105). Further investigations revealed that the site was registered in the UK on February 28 around the same time that the WhatsApp message started to spread across Nigeria.
This website bills itself as belonging to an organisation called Viral Medications UK but there is no further online trace of the alleged group. Vowing to chase those behind it, the MRHA warned it would act against those who act with no regard to public health, saying the illegal supply of medicines is a criminal offence.
Shortly after the agency’s statement, the website was no longer available. Chloroquine phosphate is one of several drugs being tested for their efficiency in the fight against the global coronavirus epidemic, which erupted in China in December 2019.
Chinese scientists said in early February that the drug had shown apparent efficacy in treating COVID-19. However, the World Health Organisation has since said there is no proof that chloroquine is an effective treatment at this time.
Nigeria banned chloroquine in 2005 after the World Health Organisation warned of high treatment failures and drug resistance in some parts of the world. False or misleading claims over the drug are part of a much broader wave of misinformation regarding the coronavirus outbreak.