hepatitis b drugs in Nigeria: the how, where, & cost

This is a mail I received from a reader trying to find out the available hepatitis b drugs in Nigeria a week ago and it is copied verbatim with his permission

“Goodafternoon my Doctor, i need your help and medical input on my predicament, I went for hepatitis b screening test in one of the diagnostic centres in Lagos and test results came out positive. Shocked and in total denial since i had no symptoms whatsoever, i rejected the results. The doctor in the centre told me to carryout the test 3 months later and in another laboratory. On my field trip to Abuja, i used the opportunity to repeat the test and results were the same(still positive). Convinced with the results now, I paid a visit to a gastroenterologist in Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), she examined me, carried out other series of tests she called the liver function test(ALT and AST) which she said was elevated and instructed me to start treatment and she prescribed interferon for me that I am to take for 48 weeks. Now my problem, interferon as one of the medicine for hepatitis b in Nigeria is very scarce and expensive. I was told it is only available in Lagos and Abuja. A pharmacy store in Lagos told me that a dose costs #30,000 naira per week, meaning i will spend up to 2million naira to get cured of hepatitis b (since I will be taking the the drug for one year)  which in all honesty I cannot afford. Please doctor, what are the other available hepatitis b drugs in Nigeria? Where can I get them? What is the cost of hepatitis b drugs and treatment in Nigeria? Are there other centres for hepatitis b treatment in Nigeria apart from LUTH? When can I start treatment for hepatitis b since I don’t have any symptoms? Thank you for your anticipated reply – ganiyu from Lagos.”

My reply:

Thank you for choosing to share your hepatitis b story with the public. This is the same treatment problems many Nigerians diagnosed of hepatitis b virus infection face and they don’t know how to go about it. They have difficulty finding where and how to get hepatitis b drugs in Nigeria, the drugs are scarce, and even when available they are always very expensive as the treatment of hepatitis b is not subsidized in Nigeria. It is important for you to know that hepatitis b drugs in Nigeria are not the the everyday drugs patients buy over the counter so very few pharmacy stores stock them. Sometimes they suffer losses when the drugs expire.

 Hepatitis b drugs in Nigeria

Right now, about 6 medicines are approved for the treatment of hepatitis b in Nigeria by the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and  Control (NAFDAC). They are:

1. Tenofovir (viread)

Trade name is Viread and it is in tablets. It is good for persons with chronic hepatitis b infection. Tenofovir does not cure hepatitis b but lowers the amount of the virus in your body by suppressing their ability to multiply. It can be taken alone and try not to miss any pill to avoid resistance. Take one tablet per day.

Your doctor will advice you to do regular blood tests to monitor you liver enzymes (ALT & AST). Lowering of your liver enzymes signifies improvement.

It is available in designated pharmacy shops in Lagos, Abuja, Benin, Anambra, and Port Harcourt.

Cost: A bottle of tenofovir contains 30 tablets which costs between #7,000- #9,000 naira

2. Lamivudine (epivir, zeffix)

The most widely used antiviral drug for hepatitis in Nigeria and it comes in 150mg, 300mg tablets and 10mg/ml syrup. It is used for both HIV and Hepatitis B patients. It does not cure but suppresses the multiplication  of the hepatitis b virus to undetectable levels so that the liver can heal on its own. Routine blood tests are advised to assess the liver and kidney functions. A tablet (150mg) is taken once a day and for an unstipulated duration (may be lifelong). Its major problem is resistance. Patients that discontinued lamivudine have been shown to suffer relapses.

It is available in designated pharmacy stores in Lagos, Abuja, Benin, Port Harcourt and some other parts of Nigeria. In Lagos you can get Lamivudine @ Alpha Pharmacy, Ikeja.

Price of lamivudine in Nigeria: A bottle of lamivudine costs #8,000-#9,000 naira.

3.Entecavir (baraclude)

It comes in tablets( 0.5mg and 1mg) that is taken once daily. Effective against the multiplication of hepatitis b. It is best taken on empty stomach( 2hours before meal). Can be used for both adults and children.

Available in designated pharmacy stores in Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt, Ibadan, and Kano.

Price of Entecavir in Nigeria: I put a call through to to Alpha Pharmacy in Ikeja, Lagos and the pharmacist there told me that 0.5mg of entecavir (containing 10 tablets) costs #17,000 naira and 1mg of entecavir (containing 10 tablets) costs #20,000 naira.

4. Telbivudine (Tyzeka, sebivo)

Comes in tablets (600mg). It is a pill taken once a day for at least one year or longer. It was approved in 2006 for adults. Like other drugs, it slows down the multiplication of hepatitis b virus but does not cure or prevent the transmission of the virus. Patients that stop the drug abruptly suffers relapse so let you doctor know before stopping the medication. Tebivudine is available in Alpha Pharmacy, Ikeja, Lagos.

The cost of tebivudine for a year is about #750,000 naira.

5. Adefovir dipivoxil (Hepsera)

Comes as 10mg tablet (a satchet contains 30 tablets). To be daily once daily for up to 1 year or more. Not recommended for children. Patients on Adefovir are instructed to do routine liver and kidney function tests.

The cost of treating hepatitis b with adefovir for a year is around #500,000 naira.

READ ALSO: 5 FACTS ABOUT THE COST OF FIBROID SURGERY IN NIGERIA.

6. Interferon

Interferon is the most expensive of the drugs for hepatitis b in Nigeria. Very effective against hepatitis b infection and the only hepatitis b drugs not given orally but with injection. It is given once a week for about 48weeks to 52 weeks (a year). Interferon is available in Nigeria at Alpha Pharmacy, Lagos.

A dose of interferon cost about #25,000- #30,000 naira a week. Treatment of hepatitis b with interferon will cost about N1.5- N2 million naira a year.

When can you start treatment for hepatitis b?

It is not everyone with the hepatitis b virus that require treatment. Certain conditions have to be met and confirmed through some lab tests. Your HBV-DNA (hepatitis B viral load)  have to be assessed. Hepatitis b viral load indicates the viral burden and viral multiplication. It is used to assess recovery from infection and candidacy for treatment. It has a reference range that varies from lab to lab. Going above the specified reference range make you a candidate for treatment.

hepatitis b drugs in Nigeria
Hepatitis b drugs in Nigeria

In Nigeria, Hepatitis B viral load can be done in Lagos, Abuja, Benin, Ibadan, Enugu and many other teaching, state hospitals and private labs. In Lagos, hepatitis B viral load can be done at LUTH, LASUTH, Nigerian Institute of Medical Research(NIMR) in Yaba for around #30,000- #50,000 naira. In Abuja you can do the test at National Hospital around the same price.

Hepatitis b treatment centres in Nigeria

Apart from the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, your hepatitis b infection can be effectively managed in the following centres in Nigeria.

  • University of Benin Teaching Hospital, Edo State
  • Irrua Specialist Hospital, Irrua, Edo
  • National Hospital, Abuja
  • Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, Lagos
  • Nnamdi Azikiwe Teaching Hospital, Anambra.
  • University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital, Enugu
  • Federal medical Centre, Lokoja
  • Ahmadu Bello Teaching Hospital, Zaria, Kaduna
  • Obafemi Awolowo University Teaching, Ife, Osun
  • Federal Medical Centre, Ebutte Meta, Lagos
  • Federal Medical Centre, Owerri
  • Federal Medical Centre, Owo
  • Some state and private hospitals

Are there other approved hepatitis b drugs in Nigeria you know? Please share with us.

Caveat: The information contained here is not a substitute to visiting the hospital and seeing a doctor for proper consultation.

Read more about hepatitis from Mayoclinic

 

 

 

 

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44 thoughts on “hepatitis b drugs in Nigeria: the how, where, & cost

  1. Thank you for the inportant info. I actually got interferon to buy at alpha pharmacy, lagos as you rightly said. This was really helpful

  2. This was a message an anonymous reader sent me today via text message.
    “Please where can I get hepatitis b drugs in kaduna, Nigeria?”

    My reply…… you can get hepatitis b drugs in the designated pharmacy stores listed below in kaduna:
    1) Asma Pharmaceuticals @ ugwan Boro, Kaduna North, Kaduna.
    2) adesh pharmacy same @ ugwan boro.
    3) Salmira medical store, Ugwan boro.
    4)Ayoson pharmaceuticals, kafanchan, Kaduna
    5) aljeeda Pharmacy,tundun wada, Kaduna south,kaduna
    6) Beautiful gate pharmacy, zaria, kaduna
    7)Meldics pharmaceuticals, Ugwan Boro, Kaduna.

    You can get hepatis b drugs in any of the following pharmacies in Kaduna, Nigeria.

    1. no, interferon can reduce the hepatitis b viral load to the bearest minimum so that you cannot infect others and you will live your live to the fullest. some doctors call this a “cure”.

    2. No. There is no cure of hepatitis B. The scientists are very close to develop a cure therapy but they lack funds to do many things. This is work in progress. I live in usa and am very aware of what’s going on with hep B

  3. You can also locate any of the VHAN centers nearest to you. Viral Hepatitis Association of Nigeria. Google it and find out a center closest to you. Hepatitis treatment is really expensive, I’ve been on it since last year and I’m still on it. May God heal us all.

  4. Please what if you are not able to access where you can check your viral load, can you go ahead and start treatment? Cos this is what most Nigerians are facing, since it is not every hospital that can check hepatitis viral load.

    1. Check any teaching hospital in your state. Their labs do hepatitis b viral load. Also, you must see a doctor before starting treatment.

  5. Pls is it possible to be taking hepatitis b drug even as a student. Is going to be any side effect of the drug? Needs ur reply. Thanks

  6. There is no cure for Hepatitis B but these drugs will reduce the viral load to minimum as not to infect other people. I have been on Entecavir 0.5mg for over 8years without any problems.

  7. i have been diagnose with hbv after going through all the test and i was place on tenovofir drugs which i took the drugs for one year.i regularly go to the hospital for check during the period of using the drugs and there is a great improvement according to the result but along the line i stop treatment for about more than 3 years.I am not filling anything in my body system but i really want to go back for treatment what will i do?

  8. Livolin forte
    Hepatotonic Phospholipids with vitamins. This Livolin drugs was introduced to me to be taken in LUTH for years now but I didn’t see this drug among d six drugs that was listed here that hepatitis b patience can take. Please I want you to enlighten me more on dis Livolin drug.

  9. Hi my liver enzymes shoot high, the doctor is recommending Alfa interferon for me. We contact alpha pharmacy Ikeja and H. Musics abuja but they don’t have it. Please is there any other place to find it?

  10. Hi please I need a place I can get alpha interferon apart from alpha pharmacy Ikeja and H medics Abuja because I already check but these places don’t have. Please is urgent.

  11. My wife was tested herpatits b positive because of that I too knew that I may be positive too because I feel it through my urine colour.
    Please how can I get any of the drug that is cheaper cos they are too expensive for me, my salary is 55,000 per month, but I don’t want my wife to die.please help me.

    1. @Hassana B. hepatitis b viral load helps the doctor the line of treatment and helps us if the antiviral medications you are taking are working. it helps determine the progression of the disease.

  12. Please am hep b positive, and I always have pains in my abdomen. The doctor prescribed lyvolin capsule for me. Still yet d pain does not stop. Please what can I do? Have done the viral load test, and the result was ok

  13. Hello sir, well done and thank you for your initiative.
    Please what is the cost of the hepatitis viral load test in LUTH presently???
    I would appreciate your urgent assistance.

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