Concord Times (Freetown)

30 January 2013

Sierra Leone: Over 120 Patients in Sierra Leone to Benefit From Topotecan

Topotecan shipment worth over US$500,000 has been delivered to the Ministry of Health and Sanitation and will be administered free of charge to over 120 cancer patients in Sierra Leone.

The drugs were received last Friday by Ibrahim Koroma, Monitoring and Evaluation officer,on behalf of the Ministry at the Chambers of lawyer Vandi S. Nabie.

Dr. Ankur Purohit - Sierra Leone's Honorary Consul to Chicago, Illinois, United States - stated that he and his wife, Dr. Ahnal Purohit - board member of AWASH, a Freetown-based non-profit organization -are good friends of the Chairman of Sagent Pharmaceuticals, Inc. of Schaumberg, Illinois and therefore were able to solicit the drugs to be used for cancer patients in Sierra Leone.

"Based on our friendship with Chairman of Sagent, as well as their Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Igoni Dokubo, and the good reputation of AWASH, we received these doses (720 individual vials; approximately 120 doses) of topotecan. Topotecanis a chemotherapy agent used for many types of cancers, but is particularly effective when treating ovarian cancer. I asked our Washington Embassy (H.E. Bockarie Stevens, Ambassador) to determine through the Health Ministry if the drug would be useful for patients in Sierra Leone. Mr. Alan Logan (First Secretary at the Embassy) received a message back from Dr. Daoh (Chief Medical Officer of Sierra Leone) that indeed, it is of vital importance and that many patients stand to benefit from the medicine," Dr.AnkurPurohit explained.

The Commercial value of these medicines is about $6,000 US dollars per dose. Thus, the "value" of these medicines is over US$500,000. The shipment will benefit anywhere from 120 to 135 cancer patients in Sierra Leone.

"Our plan is to facilitate donations of more drugs to patients in need. Sagent Pharmaceuticals has already generously agreed to donate valuable advanced antibiotics to us. These antibiotics are of vital importance to patients suffering from many types of infectious diseases," Dr. Purohit stated.

He commended the efforts and indulgence of Hon. Torto (Chairman, Parliamentary Oversight Committee for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation), the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, and Sierra Leone Embassy staff in Washington, D.C., USA on helping to make these drugs available to patients who desperately need them.

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