In the light of the recent upsurge in the second phase of the Corona virus pandemic, and with the sporadic deaths recorded globally, despite numerous inventions and consistent efforts put in by medical professionals and health experts all over the world, the pandemic seem not to be going away any time soon as recent experiences has shown.
The above situation has further created a much desperate state of emergency and huge pressure on scientists globally, to look for meaningful and useful alternative medical solutions, to invent drugs and vaccines either to prevent people from getting infected or to combat those already infected.
Just recently, it was announced by news sources that the University of Jos (UNIJOS) has authorised the use of a herbal tea, which it said has shown efficacy for the prevention of COVID-19.
The little setback in all of these positive news however, is the fact that it has not gotten the full approval from NAFDAC.
The approval for consumption of the tea was given In a memo dated January 11, by the university senate. In the press release it was stated that the tea was produced in 2020 by the UNIJOS Africa Centre of Excellence in Phytomedicine Research and Development.
Upon inquiry, The cable news discovered that the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) is yet to approve the drug for use.
The director general of NAFDAC, Mojisola Adeyeye, disclosed to news reporters, The Cable on Friday that she was not privy to any information on any form of such an approval and would have to check with the relevant directorate at the agency.
Meanwhile, a pharmacologist by name Simeon Omale, who happens to be one of the lead researchers, confirmed that the centre only has a pre-conditional approval — and not a final nod — for the supplement.
He, further added that “we have done the research that NAFDAC needs to ascertain the safety of the product.”
Corroborating the lack of approval to The Cable, Innocent Emmanuel, chairman of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) in Plateau state, also said that the association “has not been communicated officially” about the development.
Moreso in the memo signed by Monday Danjem, UNIJOS registrar, he revealed that the senate said it deliberated on the herbal tea during its fourth special meeting for the 2019/2020 academic session.
“Senate was informed that the University of Jos Centre for Excellence in Phytomedicine has produced a home-made herbal tea for the prevention of COVID-19, and it is sold at an affordable price,” the memo reads.
“Senate directed that the information should be disseminated to all staff in the University Community for patronage of the herbal tea.”
Findings by TheCable, however, showed that the university authorities only acted in anticipation of a yet-to-be-given approval from NAFDAC.
Its important to note that Omale confirmed the fact that no clinical trial on humans has been carried out on the herbal tea, but that they have done the safety profile (and) it is very safe.
“We have done some reasonable research on it. We have done the safety profile; we claimed anti-inflammatory, we claimed anti-oxidant, we claimed anti-COVID. We have checked the active ingredients of the herbal tea against SARS-COV-2, which is the virus that causes COVID-19, and it has very good interaction with the virus,” he said.
“Using the fruit flies being used for drug discovery in the modern world, we tested for the anti-inflammatory that we reported there, and we have also checked it for anti-malaria. So, those basic experiments have been done.”
When quizzed on why the university authorised the herbal tea for use when it is yet to get final approval from NAFDAC, the researcher replied saying it was due to the urgency involved with the spread of the pandemic. In his words; “if you have gotten some evidence, there is an accelerated kind of approval.”
“Herbal medicine is not like the normal orthodox drugs that you go through various stages of clinical trials. For herbal medicine, as long as people are taking it and it is safe, NAFDAC will just do a little profile to check how safe it is and they give you number,” he explained.
“We have done the research that NAFDAC needs to ascertain the safety of the product; that is the document we are going to present to them on Monday.”
Gift Joseph Okpakorese