The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) has explained why it has not yet approved any herbal medicine for the treatment of COVID-19.
This is contained in a statement signed by the agency’s resident media consultant, Mr. Olusayo Akintola, and delivered to journalists on Sunday in Abuja.
The statement quotes Professor Moji Adeyeye, Director General of NAFDAC, as saying that “no medicine has yet been found to cure COVID-19”.
Adeyeye also warned Nigerians against excessive consumption of onions and garlic in a bid to cure COVID-19, saying, “If you eat too much, your breath will smell bad and no one will want to stay near you.” .
She said currently available drugs can only help relieve symptoms and increase chances of survival.
She warned Nigerian researchers and other herbal medicine practitioners to refrain from parading with unverified drugs against the virus.
She said any product without NAFDAC approval for the treatment of COVID-19 is null and void, adding that such an act is a violation of national regulatory authorities and a violation of protocols.
She admitted that onions or garlic or any of the natural fruits that we eat contain antioxidants and nutrients that can help us feel better, adding that people may have used it and they are doing better.
“If not documented, it cannot be recognized by NAFDAC for COVID-19. They work on our cells to keep people healthier, but not to cure COVID-19. They help our body function better. There is no cure for COVID-19 yet.
She added that they can boost immunity and the person may not be easily susceptible to infection, adding that “even with that, you still need to protect yourself.”
“If you eat garlic and onion and don’t use a face mask, you will get COVID-19. If you are in a bad environment; If you don’t wash your hands, you will get COVID-19.
“Everything has to be put in place. The University of Jos said there are herbal medicines whether it be tea or whatever that can cure COVID-19 they linked it to the treatment of COVID-19 they did the packaging .
“We have sent a letter warning them that they cannot claim something unless it has gone through our registration process. They were trying to sell it to their staff. This is a violation of our own regulatory policies.
“No one should say this one can cure this or that without going through the NAFDAC registration process, herbal medicine research by academia is normal.
“It is now up to universities to also recognize the national regulatory authority established to protect the safety of the Nigerian people, ensuring that the product they are working on must pass through NAFDAC,” Adeyeye said.
According to her, there have been one or two instances where the University of Jos product has been encouraged to be used by people without going through NAFDAC.
She said the university was supposed to go through the national regulatory authority and pave the way for NAFDAC to declare it safe for consumption.
The DG insisted that his agency must approve the clinical trial protocol, pointing out that “If they do not do this and go ahead to market and sell their product, such an act would be a violation of the regulatory procedures.
According to her, some people may have used it and gotten better at it, but without it being scientifically approved and documented, we may not be able to guarantee its safety for human consumption.
She recalled that NAFDAC had set up a Herbal Medicines Committee in March 2019 before the outbreak of the pandemic, to advance herbal medicine research.
Adeyeye said the purpose of such an idea was to ensure that the herbalist and the researcher collaborated, so whatever the herbalist knows about the ancestral history that the research would support.
She further explained that collaborating with the researcher would allow this herbal medicine to be advanced and listed by NAFDAC if deemed safe for consumption.
According to her, during the pandemic, there have been many claims that there are herbal medicines, which could be used to treat the symptoms of COVID-19, pointing out that no medicine has yet been identified. .
“But there are herbal medicines that could ease the symptoms of COVID-19. However, NAFDAC has not granted any drug approval registration for this.
“NAFDAC approves these drugs for inclusion on the list, this means they have been tested and found to be safe to use. NAFDAC cannot say that herbal medicine can treat COVID-19 as long as a clinical trial is not carried out.
“At present, no herbal medicine has gone through a full clinical trial the way the clinical trial is supposed to go,” she said.
According to her, to do a formal clinical trial, you have to write a protocol, you have to get it through the National Health Research Ethics Committee (NHREC) and you have to get it through NAFDAC.
She said the agency hasn’t given any passing grades when it comes to COVID-19 herbal medicine, but the agency has approved some herbal remedies that it says can alleviate some of the symptoms of COVID-19.
She said some of the approved herbal medications that they say can ease symptoms of COVID-19 only work as immune boosters.
Adeyeye pointed out that such herbal medicine can prevent contracting the disease, adding that as far as NAFDAC is concerned, it has not approved any medicine to treat COVID-19.
“We have approved drugs that they say can alleviate symptoms and relieve people of certain symptoms of COVID-19, when the product is listed the clinical trial can begin.
“It takes a lot of money to do a clinical trial. The University of Jos received permission to begin clinical trials of their products, which have yet to begin.
The DG further disclosed that many herbal products have been subjected to federal government subsidies because most herbal practitioners lack the means to conduct clinical trials.
She said many of these herbal products are subject to scrutiny by different government agencies across the country.
“In terms of clinical trials and official protocols, none have been successful yet.”
According to her, these herbal products can be used during the clinical trial to determine whether they might be effective against COVID-19.