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Drug Abuse: NGO cautions commercial motorists 





Abuja, March 11, 2019  Vanguard Against Drug Abuse (VGADA), a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), has advised commercial motorists in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) to shun hard drugs and other intoxicating substances because they are harmful.

The President of the NGO, Dr Hope Abraham, gave the advice in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria  in Abuja on Monday.

He said that the organisation was committed to counseling drug user on the dangers, and in promoting full recovery of drug addicts through sensitisation.

“Majority of automotive accidents today are caused by the influence of hard drugs and alcohol, especially by drunken drivers on our roads.

“One of our primary purposes is to help people get out of drugs and become useful to themselves and the society at large.

“We ensure drug addicts recover and one of our activities is to sensitise the public to the dangers of drug abuse.

“Several campaigns have been held in that regard and we do not intend to stop.

“Everybody needs to be aware that hard drugs are dangerous and have negative effects on their health,’’ Abraham said.

He commended the Federal Government for banning the importation, production and sale of codeine cough syrup in the country.

He described the ban as “a step in the right direction” towards stemming drug addiction among youths in the country.

“The abuse of codeine syrup by some Nigerian youths is becoming worrisome and it has negative impact on them.

“Some youths, who have been addicted to codeine, are always seen displaying symptoms of mental illness and hallucinations.

“I really commend government’s ban on the importation of the syrup so that our youths will not waste at early stage,’’ Abraham added.

He said that the organisation would not relent in its efforts to ensure that the society was free from drug abuse and peddling.

He urged the government to look into banning tramadol tablets as it was cheap to get, adding that the ban of codeine had helped the organisation’s operations.


Germany’s biggest health insurer reports rise in prescription drug spending before lockdown




During the week before contact restrictions came into force in Germany in mid-March, expenditure on pharmaceuticals by Techniker Krankenkasse (TK) had already increased by 44 percent year-on-year, the country’s biggest statutory health insurance fund said on Friday.

TK’s expenditure on pharmaceuticals totaled about 104 million euros (117.6 million United States dollars) during the second week of March, said the insurer.

The number of prescriptions, which included an unusually large number of large drug packages, was 10 percentage points higher than in the same week last year, according to the TK.

Patients in Germany had “stocked up on prescription drugs before the so-called lockdown, this applies in particular to insured people with chronical diseases,” said Jens Baas, chair of the TK’s Board of Directors.

The sharp increase in expenditure on drugs shows that the costs of the COVID-19 pandemic in Germany are currently difficult to estimate, according to the TK.

During March, expenditure on pharmaceuticals per insured person increased around 26 percent, but returned to the level of the previous year in April, according to the TK’s initial evaluation.

“Due to the economic consequences of the pandemic, enormous slumps on the revenues side are already apparent for the entire statutory health insurance system,” said Baas.


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10 drug traffickers arrested in Afghanistan




The Afghan National Police (ANP) arrested 10 drug traffickers and confiscated big amount of drugs following separate anti-drug operations on Thursday, the Ministry of Interior said Friday.

“Counter-Narcotics Police of Afghanistan (CNPA), which is part of ANP, arrested three people in Qalat city, capital of southern Zabul province. The arrestees had hidden around 10 tons of henbane inside a trailer truck and tried to transfer the drugs to neighboring Kandahar province,” the ministry said in a statement.

In eastern Nangarhar province, five individuals who have placed 20 kg opium and 8.5 kg heroin in two vehicles were arrested in Bati Kot district and provincial capital Jalalabad city.

The smugglers planned to traffic the drugs to Kandahar, according to the ministry.

In eastern Panjshir province, the CNPA police conducted a special operation and arrested one person for transferring of 25 kg hashish to the national capital Kabul.

After initial investigations, the CNPA handed over the cases to the Counter Narcotics Justice Centre of Afghanistan (CNJC) that has a special court for jurisdiction of major drug cases, the statement added.


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Australian drug to be tested for COVID-19 treatment




A pioneering drug developed by the University of Western Australia‘s spin-off company Dimerix will be included in a global trial to treat patients suffering Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS) with COVID-19, the university announced on Thursday.

The drug, named as DMX-200, was selected as part of the Randomised, Embedded, Multifactorial Adaptive Platform trial for Community-Acquired Pneumonia (REMAP-CAP) program, to treat people hospitalised with proven or suspected COVID-19. Such patients typically suffer acute lung dysfunction caused by the immune response to the virus.

While the long-term effects of COVID-19 remain unknown, some people worry it may result in acute injury, such as chronic lung fibrosis, similar to SARS and MERS infections.

DMX-200, which is being developed as a renal therapy to reduce damage from inflammatory cells by blocking their signalling and limiting subsequent onset of fibrosis, could also benefit ARDS patients with COVID-19 in a similar way.

Dimerix’s chief scientific advisor Professor Kevin Pfleger welcomed the decision.

“It has taken years of research and development to get DMX-200 to this point, and it will be worth every second if it can contribute to fighting the devastating effects of this virus,” Pfleger said.

Dimerix CEO Dr Nina Webster said the company was pleased to support a global initiative investigating possible treatments to COVID-19.

“Dimerix is uniquely positioned to support the global effort in identifying COVID-19 treatments, as well as having two Phase 2 renal clinical studies completing mid-2020,” Webster said.

REMAP-CAP is an international platform trial run by a network of experts, institutions and research groups, and plans to include over 7,000 patients from more than 200 sites across Asia-Pacific, Europe and North America.


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Israeli scientists find way to overcome melanoma cells’ drug resistance




Israeli researchers have discovered a new way for overcoming anti-cancer drug resistance in melanoma, the Israel Institute of Technology (Technion) said Thursday.

According to world statistics, melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer, killing one person every hour, while presenting a rapid resistance to molecular anti-cancer therapies.

A research led by the Technion have found that two proteins, RNF4 and eIF2-alpha, together play a major role in drug resistant melanoma.

The researchers examined melanoma tumors taken from patients that exhibit treatment resistance and found that the cancer-causing proteins (oncoproteins) in them were abnormally stabilized due to high levels of RNF4 that protect them from degradation.

Thus, the team observed that high levels of RNF4 in melanoma tumors correlate with poor prognosis and treatment resistance.

Furthermore, they found that RNF4‘s tumorigenic properties in melanoma, such as growth, formation, and therapy resistance, require the eIF2-alpha protein.

The team found that RNF4 binds to eIF2-alpha and stabilizes it, and in turn, eIF2-alpha helps RNF4 to develop resistance, creating a devastating positive feedback loop.

According to the scientists, the elucidation of the RNF4 protein pathway in melanoma and its dependency on eIF2-alpha protein may enable doctors to predict how a patients’ melanoma will respond to targeted therapies, allowing better personalized treatments.

The findings may also lead to new pharmacological treatment to selectively block this pathway, effectively destroying such treatment resistant melanoma tumors.


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Court sentences 2 drug traffickers to 6 months imprisonment each



Justice Dorcas Agishi of Federal High Court on Thursday sentenced two drug traffickers to six months imprisonment each.

Justice Agishi sentenced Mansir Usman, 34 and Nuhu Samuel, 27 after they pleaded guilty to being in possession of 106gm of cannabis sativa, 0.9gm of Dizapham and 1.4gm of Tramadol.

The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) Counsel, Mr Uche Chukwu, said the offence is punishable under the provisions of Section 19 of NDLEA Act CAP N30 Law of FRN 2004 as amended.

Delivering judgment, Justice Agishi, warned the convicts against indulging in criminal acts, which she said would only destroy their destinies and put their family members in agony and pain.

“You should know that the offence you committed can earn you 25 years in jail but because you are first time offenders and you pleaded for Mercy, l sentence both of you to only six months with an option of fine of N50,000 each.

“If any of you is caught and brought before me again, you shall not enjoy this sort of mercy again but will face stiffer penalty. So look for better things to do to help your families order than hard drugs, ” she warned.

Earlier, the judge, expressed gratitude to God for keeping her alive alongside the staff and Lawyers in her court room from the deadly Coronavirus pandemic

Edited By: Sadiya Hamza (NAN)

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Cambodia destroys more than 130 tons of counterfeit drugs, products




Cambodia on Thursday destroyed more than 130 tons of counterfeit medicines and products that it had seized last year and early this year, a senior official said.

The ceremony was held at a dumpsite on the southwestern part of Phnom Penh under the presence of Health Minister Mam Bunheng.

Meach Sophana, secretary of state at the Ministry of Interior and chairman of the government’s Counter Counterfeit Committee, said at the event that the destroyed items included 225 types of expired drugs, inferior traditional medicines, counterfeit cosmetic products and inferior foodstuffs.

The counterfeit products had been confiscated from pharmacies and markets in 2019 and in early 2020, he said.

“These fake drugs and products are very dangerous to people’s health,” Sophana said. “The ceremony today is a message to perpetrators that we will not tolerate any illegal act that damages people’s health and affects social safety.”


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Monitor your children to curb drugs addiction, NGO pleads



An NGO, Adicare Rehabilitation Home, has advised parents and guardians to monitor their children and wards to prevent avoid being influenced to drug abuse and addiction by negative peers.

The NGO’s Chief Executive Officer, Mrs Veronica Ezeh, told the News Agency of Nigeria on Wednesday in Lagos that parents, guardians and alike must take up the responsibility of mentoring their children and youths in the right way.

Ezeh said to check the acts of suicide, arson, violent crimes and violence against women in form of rape, there should be concerted efforts to stop youths from using hard drugs or becoming drug addict.

She is a Psychiatric Nurse at the Federal Neuro-Psychiatric Hospital, Yaba, Lagos.

Ezeh decried the high rate of drugs abuse among youths, urging parents and alike to join hands with the organisations in the campaign against illicit drug use.

She said the NGO on Feb. 26, concluded the first-phase of its sensitisation and education programme on the dangers of youth involvement in drug abuse.

Ezeh said the NGO was planning to kick-off the second-phase of the programme as soon as the pressure of COVID-19 calms down and the economy normalised.

She added that the sensitisation programme targeted youths, particularly the secondary school students within the age bracket of 13 to 19 years.

The psychiatrist said investigations revealed that most mental destitute on the streets were caused by abuse of drugs, which she said that youths were more vulnerable.

According to her, drug abuse is a habit done in secret, and the only way it can be identified in children is at the primary or secondary school levels.

Ezeh, therefore, advised parents and guardians to monitor the company, their children and wards.

She said that they should keep to know when they were getting involved in drugs, and thereby prevent them from going astray.

“I always say that parents should be able to monitor their children closely, because drug abuse is a secret habit which may be difficult to identify.

“But if a parent is close or friendly with his/her child, having established good relationship with the child, such parent will be able to know when the child is going astray or getting involved in illicit drugs.

“The moment a child starts school (either primary or secondary), try and keep a watch on him or her and monitor their daily activities.

“If they have phone, try to know their contacts and the kind of conversations they keep with their friends, and if possible, try to know their friends in person, including the families of their friends,” she cautioned.

According to her, majority of youths/students who get involved in drug abuse do not know the implications of what they are doing, rather, they take it because their friends or peers were taking.

Ezeh noted that parents were the firstline of people to educate the young ones on the dangers of drug abuse, mentor them and guide them right to grow and become responsible citizens, not drug addicts.

“It is on record that the use of hard drugs is the number one cause of mental illness, suicide, arson, violent crimes as well as violence against women worldwide.

Edited By: Olagoke Olatoye (NAN)

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General news

OOU, herbal firm partner to produce anti-COVID-19 drug



The Olabisi Onabanjo University (OOU), Ago-Iwoye, Ogun, on Tuesday, said it had produced a herbal syrup for the prevention, treatment and management of coronavirus.
The Vice-Chancellor of the university, Prof. Ganiyu Olatunde, made the disclosure at a press briefing, held at Ago-Iwoye.
said that the product, tagged “OOU-Anjo Anti- COVID-19 herbal syrup”, was developed by a team of researchers from the institution, in partnership with Anjola Herbal Company Limited.
vice chancellor added that three other products, namely automated hand sanitiser dispenser, personal hand sanitiser and face masks, were also produced by the institution.
He explained that samples of the herbal syrup had been submitted to the National Agency for Food and Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC) for approval.
Olatunde assured that the syrup would be released to the Nigerian market as soon as an approval was granted by NAFDAC.
said that the syrup and the other products were part of the institution’s achievements in the areas of teaching, research and community development during the lockdown.
“Our university is one of the core institutions that engage in research into the COVID-19 pandemic. And in partnership with Anjola Herbal Company Limited, which is one of our partners in herbal medicine, we have been able to produce an anti-COVID-19 herbal syrup.
“I can assure you that it went through all the necessary protocols that you can have in trying to produce herbal syrup.
Since the era of Ebola, our health centre and the Department of Chemistry have been involved in the production of hand sanitiser.
“We also have some sections of the university that engage in the production of face masks and face shields, which are being requested for by a number of organisations across the country,” he said.
Dr Joseph Ashudi, the acting Director, Research, Linkages and Advancement of the institution, described the syrup as anti-bacteria, anti-viral, anti-inflammatory and anti- coagulant.
Ashidi, one of the researchers, said that the product was formulated based on results of post-mortem researches conducted on those who died of COVID-19 infection.
He, however, explained that the research team had no access to COVID-19 patients for laboratory test with the syrup.
“They said we cannot have access to COVID-19 patients because of the nature of that disease. We then relied on postmortem reports that we carried out and we came up with many symptoms,” he said.

Edited By: Chioma Ugboma and (NAN)‘Wale Sadeeq

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Pfizer to invest up to $500 m in public drug developers



Pfizer Inc (PFE.N) said on Tuesday it would invest up to 500 million dollars into publicly traded drug developers to fund their treatment candidates and provide access to the United States drugmaker’s scientific expertise.

Pfizer said it would make non-controlling investments in the biotechs with small- to medium-sized market capitalisations, but did not identify them.

The move comes at a time when the COVID-19 pandemic has led drugmakers to delay their clinical trials testing various therapies.

Pfizer said its Breakthrough Growth Initiative program, under which it was making the investment, allows partner companies to access its research, clinical development and manufacturing resources.


Edited By: Isaac Aregbesola (NAN)





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