The Charles Oben Story: How GSK Drug Turned A Healthy Banker To An Ogre

imageimageThe journey of Charles Oben into misery began when he was posted to Burkina Faso, and he decided to visit a cardiologist for a routine check-up. It was discovered that his urea level was high and the drug Zyloric (manufactured by Glaxo Smithkline (GSK) Pharmaceuticals) was prescribed.

Oben, a staff of UBA, bought the drug for N1,300 and he dutifully administered dosage.

However in less than 36 hours, Oben’s life was turned into a living hell. Blisters, skin peeling, impaired sight and bed sores became his plight. His wife, Joan flew in, saw her husband and melted. His children came in and ran away. Mirrors where kept away from him.

Oben’s condition is known as the Stephen Johnson Syndrome (SJS). It is caused by a severe allergic reaction to a medication. SJS usually begins with a rash that can lead to blistering, severe peeling and open sores. The condition is a serious and potentially life-threatening disease .
Oben was eventually evacuated to the United Kingdom, by his family. It was in the UK that he got succor, but this came with some side effects. He has had two cornea replacement surgeries and much more devastating is the fact that he cannot shed a tear for the rest of his natural life. He has been confined to the use of artificial tear-inducing drugs, which he buys from America for $200 monthly.

Already, Oben has dragged Glaxo Smithkline the manufacturer of the drug to court for the irreparable damages to his life.

Oben’s wife, Joan wants the Nigerian government to push the pharmaceutical companies in the country to take proactive steps in warning consumers not only about the side effect of their drugs, but also about the severity that such side effects may escalate.

Oben's wife, Joan
Oben’s wife, Joan
According to Joan, “Many drug companies will stop taking advantage of the populace. That legislation should force them to write the warnings in the right language and in the right context in the leaflet. If Zyloric, or any of its other commercial names can possibly lead to SJS, which can lead to blindness and death, it should say so on the drug and it should say so in the local language. English for Nigeria.”

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