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COVID-19: NAFDAC subjects Iwu’s herbal formulation, 39 others to clinical trials

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THE National Agency for Food and Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC)  says it has received 40 applications for the approval of herbal medicine for the treatment of COVID-19 from researchers across the country, according to a report.

Mojisola Adeyeye, Director-General of NAFDAC, said the 40 herbal drugs were currently undergoing review to ensure their safety for use, stating that if not properly researched, herbal medicines can cause harm.

“Prof. Maurice Iwu’s application for approval of herbal medicine for the management of COVID-19 is also part of the 40 applications we are reviewing for safety,” Adeyeye said.

“We use animals for safety test to ensure the formulation will not kill anybody.”

Adeyeye reiterated that there was no cure for COVID-19 available and warned that any claim of cure must be subjected to clinical trials following an approved clinical trial protocol.

“Until a clinical trial is done in a scientific manner, no herbal medicine manufacturer can claim cure or effectiveness to treat COVID-19 associated symptoms. I believe that Nigeria’s herbal medicines may be able to cure COVID-19,” said the NAFDAC DG.

“They have a lot of potentials and it is time to translate the research of herbs into products of proven safety and efficacy, for the benefit of our people.”

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Further, giving an update on the use of chloroquine for treatment of COVID-19, Adeyeye said that the drug has proven to be effective during the onset of the disease.

“We have realised that chloroquine is effective at an early stage. I was watching CNN about four days ago and heard Sanjay Gupta, the medical doctor, and correspondent mention for the first time that chloroquine can be used prophylactically.

“This was in the US, and to come from him was significant because all the while he had been saying that it was not effective, but this was proving it. If something is working prophylactically, it means that the illness will not progress,” she said.

Adeyeye stated that science does not lie but had been muddled with politics.

“We have mixed science with politics and many people are dying across the world. Science does not lie. We now understand that it is not only one drug that can be effective against COVID-19; it depends on the stage of the disease.”

According to her, to treat an average COVID-19 patient, it costs about $5 with chloroquine and about $2,500 with remdesivir.

“When we got the profile of remdesivir, what was recorded in literature and from the manufacturer was that remdesivir does not work in the early stage but in the late stage.

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“We started working with Lagos State because they have chloroquine, hydroxychloroquine and other drugs. They are still working on chloroquine, but what we are getting from the grapevine is that it is working but not at every stage,” she affirmed.

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Amos Abba is a journalist with the International Center for Investigative Reporting, ICIR, who believes that courageous investigative reporting is the key to social justice and accountability in the society.

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