Uganda approves herbal treatment for COVID-19

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The World Health Organization has expressed concern over Uganda’s approval of a locally made herbal treatment for COVID-19 amid a third wave of cases.

The WHO has not approved the substance for treatment for COVID-19, but Ugandan pharmacists say they have little choice as drugs authorized for emergency use in developed countries are not available.

The Ugandan pharmaceutical authority said on Tuesday it had approved the herbal drug, Covidex.

Dr David Nahamya, executive director of the Ugandan Pharmaceutical Authority, said the approval followed a two-week scientific evaluation of the drug’s safety and efficacy.

“Covidex has been notified to be sold through drug outlets approved for supportive therapy in the management of viral infections, but not as a cure for COVID-19,” Nahamya said.

WHO consulted researchers from nine African countries, including Uganda, in March on the use of traditional medicine to treat COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.

Dr Solome Okware from the WHO Uganda office said Covidex was not among the traditional medicines being evaluated.

“WHO has not received any information on this product,” Okware said.

Approval bases

Nahamya reassured Ugandans that the manufacturer, Jena Herbals Uganda, had increased production and that the herb would be available to anyone who needed it, under medical supervision.

FILE – People wait in the stands to be vaccinated against the coronavirus at the Kololo airstrip in Kampala, Uganda on May 31, 2021.

He added that the approval was based on initial assessments, published literature and safety studies conducted by the innovator.

“The product has been formulated from herbal remedies that have traditionally been used to relieve symptoms of several illnesses,” Nahamya said. “To enhance the drug’s effectiveness for other uses, NDA [Uganda’s National Drug Authority] advised the manufacturer to conduct randomized controlled clinical trials, which is the highest level of evidence to verify any treatment claims.

Okware said that in collaboration with the African Center for Disease Control and Prevention, WHO has developed core and generic protocols to provide guidance to members for the development of clinical trials to assess treatment claims. effective for COVID-19.

“Many plants and substances are offered without the minimum requirements and evidence of quality, safety and efficacy,” Okware said. not followed. “

“Local solutions”

Dr Samuel Opio, secretary of the Pharmaceutical Society of Uganda, said while the public feared misuse of Covidex, its approval was a positive step.

“All that is currently approved [for] emergency use in the United States is not available in Uganda, ”Opio said. “So the problem of no treatment, the problem of inaccessibility to even what is approved for emergency use, means that we must also seek local solutions to global challenges, and the treatment based on plants is a domain.

Uganda recently received 175,000 doses of AstraZeneca vaccine but is only inoculating frontline workers. With only 856,025 people vaccinated in the country, many members of the public have turned to Covidex to treat symptoms of COVID-19.


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