NAFDAC: We currently have over 20 COVID-19 herbal drugs to analyse
The National Agency for Food, Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) has said it was currently analyzing the efficacy of about 20 different herbal products submitted to it by herbal practitioners as possible treatment for Covid-19.
Director-General of the agency, Prof. Mojisola Adeyeye, who disclosed this at an investigative hearing on research into the pandemic by the House of Representatives Committee on Covid-19, said after the evaluation, the agency will then come out with protocols for carrying out clinical trials on the products.
She said “Since Covid-19, we have received about 20 herbal medicinal products applications and we have given an expedited review approach of about six weeks to evaluate the safety, after which the clinical trial for efficacy will be done and we have to review the protocols. These products are still under evaluation.”
She also disclosed that the agency has “been heavily involved in clinical trials since Covid-19 because without NAFDAC approving clinical trials, there will be none in Nigeria unless it is not for finished products or medical devices.
“Before Covid, we had 26 companies that registered with us to make hand sanitisers. Now, we have about 103 companies that we gave expedited review to and are now making hand sanitisers. That is why the shelves are not empty.
“Our Laboratory has been working round the clock. When we started, we had to do a lot of testing for chloroquine and others. When Covid Organic came, we went into action and we were the first to submit the full report of Covid Organic.”
On his part, Director-General of the Nigeria Institute for Medical Research, Obi Peter Adigwe, said the Institute will present the final report of the evaluation of the Madagascar drug known as Covid organic will be presented to the government within the next one week.
Adigwe told the Committee that it has already submitted a preliminary report on its investigation to the government adding that the report indicates that some of the active ingredients in the Covid Organic are available in Nigeria.
He said “we have also put together a validation method for people who come with traditional medicine claiming that they have activities against Covid-19. It will please you to know that we have put together a national expert validation committee; we were able to use the validation method to test the Madagascar Covid organic and has put forward a preliminary report indicating that Covid Organic includes some active ingredients that are found here in Nigeria.
“Next week, we will be presenting the full report, including the Pharmacology and toxicology report to the minister. The ministry has granted approval for the agency to put together an Artemisia annual combination therapy which can potentially address Covid-19. That project will start once the grant is released.”
He disclosed that the institute has put together about 20 high valued research and development projects as well as a hybrid of hand sanitizer from locally sourced materials with internationally validated methodology.
He said “We shared the formula with colleagues around Nigeria. This action was why you did not see the kind of empty shelves that you saw across the world in Nigeria. That action was to ensure the commodity was available to disrupt the spread of the virus.
“We also put together a drug we called Niprimol which is a strong imuno mutilated activity and all the clinical trials of the product have been completed. It is showing very great promise. We are collaborating with different colleagues and the next phase of the product, which is clinical study, is going to take place in conjunction with two tertiary hospitals.
“We have also put together a randomized control trial of some conventional medicines and have put in place an internationally accepted clinical trial protocol which we have presented to the Ministry and we are now looking forward to starting the trial”.
He however identified poor funding and the fragrant disregard for the place of research both in health and in all facets of life in the country as some of the major challenges facing the agency.
However, the Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, expressed shock that many hospitals still turn back patients requesting them to first go for Covid-19 test before being attended to, leading to the death of several patients.
Chairman of the ad hoc Committee, Rep Haruna Mshelia had told the minister that several patients have died as a result of being rejected by hospitals in the name of undergoing Covid-19 test.
The minister said “what we did was to first of all work with the Minister of the FCT to address the problem. We are going to disseminate to all the states. What we did was to first give instructions to the Federal Government and the FCT-owned hospitals in the Abuja catchment area and that includes Keffi.
“The next intervention will be with the private sector. We are going to bring them in because they have slightly different conditions. We are going to engage both the private and public hospitals, and then pass it on across the country, so that there is something that everybody knows is a rule”.
Meanwhile, the House Committee called for increased funding for research activities for Covid-19 saying that the N200 million made available by the Presidential Task Force for Covid-19 research was too minimal.