Cardiovascular diseases’ control receives boost
*Pfizer alerts on faking, importation of anti-hypertensive drugs without NAFDAC number
As part of activities to mark its 25 years of commitment to cardiovascular health in Nigeria, and the re-launch of one of its leading cardiovascular brands, Pfizer Nigeria has gathered team of medical experts to tackle the menace.
The experts have also raised alarm over the proliferation of ‘fake’ anti-hypertensive drugs and persons importing and marketing such drugs without the National Agency for Food, Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) number.
Cardiovascular disease generally refers to conditions that involve narrowed or blocked blood vessels that can lead to a heart attack, chest pain (angina) or stroke. Other heart conditions, such as those that affect your heart’s muscle, valves or rhythm, also are considered forms of heart disease.
The medical experts include: Associate Professor of Medicine, College of Medicine, University of Lagos (CMUL)/Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), Dr. Amam Mbakwem; and Medical Director, Pfizer for Nigeria, Ghana and East Africa region, Dr. Kodjo Soroh.
Mbakwem at a Cardiovascular Summit in Lagos organized by Pfizer said: “Hypertension is a big problem, we cannot help but talk about it. Hypertension in Nigeria now stands at 40 per cent and that is to say that if you meet 10 adults, there is possibility that four of them has high blood pressure (HBP). The problem is not just the numbers but what it can cause. It can damage the brain, cause a stroke; it can damage the heart, cause heart failure, cause ischemic disease like heart attack; it can damage the kidneys, arteries. It has gone all over the place so if we can this blood pressure well controlled, then we can do a lot more.
“But people are doing so many different things and scientists have come together and said let us look at the best way to treat these people and avoid all these complications from happening and we know all drugs are not born the same, some do a lot more than reducing the blood pressure.”
Soroh said: “25 years ago, Pfizer introduced a molecule into the market that addresses the problem that concerns black Africans in particular. As it is nearly 30 per cent of Nigerians are having hypertension and it is a silent killer and it is never noticed until when there are complications and ever since the introduction, we know many lives have been saved.
“There are lots of complications from hypertension from impotence, heart failure, kidney failure so when you put all these together, you will know it is worth celebrating. That was the first calcium channel blocker that has continued to save lives and we have a lot of other molecules that have this innovative product that Pfizer has brought into the market.
“The success Pfizer has made is not quantifiable, Pfizer is not a trading company, we do not sell medicine, and we sell information around the medicine. Everything we do is around awareness, we do free screening I can estimate we have screened over 30,000 Nigerians free, not only for HBP. We interact with medical community on education, we also send people for training, we educate them and they come back and train others. Know your figures, your HBP.” cholesterol level.”
Reacting on challenges towards effective control of cardiovascular diseases in Nigeria, Soroh said: “The only challenge is that of counterfeiting, people bringing in molecules without NAFDAC number, but I know NAFDAC is working hard on that.”
He said the prevention aspect is very important. “If you look at cardiovascular disease, we have modifiable and non modifiable factors. Non-modifiable has to do with age, race, but your weight, you can work on it, you can do exercise, you can avoid eating fatty food. Human beings were not created to be seated on place, that is why we have lots of joints in our body and when we don’t move, we are attracting hypertension,” Soroh said.
On why is cardiovascular disease on rampage despite Norvasc, Marketing Director of Pfizer, Winston Ailemoh, said: “When it comes to health related issues there are a million and one reasons and if you check lifestyle, it has changed drastically in terms of what we eat, it is extremely difficult to stick to natural things because of our busy schedules so a lot of these things contribute one way or another to impact on our health generally.
“Cardiovascular has been a trait but when you have a problem around cardiovascular and you see the experts, they are able to nail it down to one thing and the good news is that cardiovascular issues are treatable.”
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