Objectives: Measures are ongoing to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and treat it with medicines and personal protective equipment (PPE). However, there has been considerable controversy surrounding treatments such as hydroxychloroquine with misinformation fuelling prices hikes and suicides. Shortages have also appreciably increased costs of PPE, potentially catastrophic among lower- and middle-income countries (LMICs) such as Nigeria with high co-payment levels. Consequently, a need to investigate changes in availability, utilisation and prices of relevant medicines and PPE during the pandemic in Nigeria. Methods: Exploratory study among community pharmacists with the survey tool comprising four sections including questions on changes in consumption, prices and shortages of medicines and PPEs from beginning of March until end June 2020. In addition, suggestions from community pharmacists and co-authors on ways to reduce misinformation. Findings: 30 out of 34 pharmacists participated giving a response rate of 88.2%. Significant increases were seen (3-fold or more increase) in the consumption of hydroxychloroquine (100%), vitamins/ immune boosters (96.7%) and antibiotics (46.7%) as well as PPE (100%). Considerable price increases (50% increase or greater) also seen for antimalarials (96.7%), antibiotics (93.3%), vitamins/ immune boosters (66.7%), and PPE (100%). Shortages also seen for hydroxychloroquine and vitamins/ immune boosters but most severe for PPE (80% of pharmacies). Conclusion: Encouraging increases in the utilisation of vitamins/ immune boosters and PPE. However, considerable increase in utilisation and prices of antimicrobials is a concern that needs addressing including misinformation. Community pharmacists have a key role in providing evidence-based advice and helping moderate prices.
- community pharmacists
- price rises