NAFDAC disrupts launch of anti-COVID-19 herbal drug in Ogun

*Medicine practitioner alleges NAFDAC’s cost of approval, clinical trials is excessive, denies subverting agency’s procedure

Emmanuel Akosile | ConsumerConnect

As the nation eagerly awaits outcomes of the agency’s said assessment and clinical trials of some COVID-19 local herbal cures certain Nigerians recently submitted to it, officials of the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) have reportedly disrupted the presentation of an anti-COVID-19 herbal syrup in Abeokuta, Ogun State capital.

Paul Oni, a herbal medicine practitioner, was reported to have planned to launch the syrup at a media briefing Thursday, July 2, 2020, in the Centenary Hall, Ake, in Abeokuta.

However, report says that NAFDAC officials in company with some policemen and operatives of the Department of State Services (DSS) stormed the venue to stop the scheduled programme.

The regulatory agency’s officials later led Oni to his factory where he planned to produce the herb and sealed off the facility after inspecting it, reports said.

Oni, while briefing reporters after the factory was shut down, decried the increase in the number of COVID-19 cases in the country in recent times.

The herbal medicine practitioner decried what he described as outrageous approval levies by NAFDAC.

He revealed that he could not afford the outrageous cost of approval and clinical trials for his herbal medicine.

“The normal cost that you will incur in going through the NAFDAC process is about N600,000 which does not include the clinical trials of N1.5 million.

“So, when I saw the cost, I concluded that I should seek help through a press conference. I am sure this herb can help people that have contracted COVID-19,” he said.

Though he denied bypassing the agency’s procedures, Oni explained that the programme was meant to seek partnership and support, as well as raise for a fund for the product to undergo the proper processes and certification.

He clarified that he only produced a few quantities of the syrup to showcase to journalists and not in large quantity for sale.

The herb is ‘anti-viral and anti-malignant’ and capable of curing COVID-19, he maintained.

He as well purported that all efforts to secure the support of the Minister for Health and other major stakeholders have not yielded positive results.

Oni said: “Maybe through that, people will come to help me. NAFDAC will come to help me and give me a waiver.

“The Nigeria Institute for Medical Research will hear what I have said about them and they will come and assist me.

“This was the purpose of the press conference; I have not produced the Oxibiotics for sale.

“I just have a couple of bottles that I want to show NAFDAC and to the Nigeria Institute for Medical Research, as samples.”

He stated that he was not discouraged by the action of the agency, while promising to ensure that the product saw the light of the day.

An official of the agency reportedly said that the programme was stopped because Oni’s product had not been certified scientifically.

“The producer is a client. He knows the procedures, having secured NAFDAC number for some of his products on two different occasions.

“But this product, in particular, has not passed through the NAFDAC processes. Besides, he did breach advertisement control policy by advertising the product,” disclosed the official.

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