Setting the Records Straight on Nigeria’s Experimental Ebola Drug

The euphoria that has greeted the donation of Nanosilver, by an undisclosed Diaspora Nigerian scientist, for treating Ebola patients in Nigeria is understandable. Ebola has no cure, therefore any agent that has the slightest potential, real or imagined, of ameliorating the dare condition of these patients, is welcomed. The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recently reported that The Minister of Health, Professor Onyebuchi Chukwu revealed that “The only experimental drug we have now is Nanosilver, provided by a Nigerian scientist; details of the drug will be disclosed later to the media”.

This statement by Professor Chukwu is misleading and disingenuous and could further ridicule Nigeria and Diaspora Nigerian scientists. His statement can be construed to mean that Nanosilver is either an invention of a Nigerian Scientists which it is not or in a clinical trial by a Nigerian Scientist which it is not. Nanosilver has been around for centuries and is used as food supplements found in health food stores, and as various antiseptic or antibiotic preparations. At this time it does not qualify as an “experimental drug” for Ebola. To categorize a medicinal agent as experimental has a defined meaning, it is a confirmation that the agent has already been cleared and qualified as such, by a governmental regulatory authority, for use in an intended disease condition.

While not sure where in the Diaspora the Nigerian scientist that supplied this compound resides, if in the USA, for instance, the FDA must grant it an investigational new drug (IND) status, meaning it has shown some promise at least against Ebola virus in laboratory animals.

If he or she is in Canada, a clinical trial application (CTA) must have been filed and approved. If in Europe, he or she must have applied and obtained approval from each country where the Nanosilver-Ebola trial will be conducted, as well as register the trial in a database of all European clinical trials, EudraCT.

Although Nanosilver is relatively safe, with its most common side effect being argyria- a condition that turns the skin blue or bluish-grey, and worth trying in Ebola patients, there is no record showing it to neither be an experimental drug for Ebola nor an invention of a Nigerian scientist. Nevertheless, the Scientist who sent the medication should be commended. This is setting the record straight.