Despite claims of a possible COVID-19 cure by some traditional practitioners, the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) says it has only received one application to endorse a product as a possible treatment option for the symptoms of the virus.
In a statement issued on Wednesday, the Director-General of the agency, Moji Adeyeye, said other claims about a possible cure for COVID-19 only exist on social media and the pages of newspapers.
Ms Adeyeye’s statement is in reaction to several claims by some Alternative Medicines Practitioners that they have a cure for COVID-19.
The Ooni of Ife, Adeyeye Ogunwusi, who is one of Nigeria’s most influential traditional ruler had claimed to have a cure for the virus currently ravaging the world.
The minister of health, Osagie Ehanire, earlier said all herbal medicines in Nigeria must be tested by the agency to prove the efficacy of the drugs.
He also said such drugs will first be tested on animals before it can be certified.
Ms Adeyeye said practitioners who claimed to have a cure for the virus are yet to submit an application to test the efficacy of their drugs.
She said the only application received is for treating the symptoms of the virus and not the virus itself.
“The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) as at the time of this press release has only received application from one company for a product the company is presenting (for approval) to the Agency for the treatment of the symptoms of Covid-19, and not for the cure of Covid-19 as a disease.
“A claim of a cure must be subjected to clinical evaluation through well-controlled, randomized clinical trials following an approved clinical trial protocol,” she said.
Ms Adeyeye said the public has witnessed quite a number of claims from different quarters in a bid to get a cure for the virus.
She said such claims are only domiciled on social media.
“In a bid to discover a cure, therefore, the public has witnessed quite a number of claims from different quotas – Complementary & Alternative Medicines Practitioners, Traditional healers, and the Academia.
“It is pertinent to note, however, that these claims are domiciled in either the conventional news media or the social media,” she said.
She said the Nigerian Herbal Medicine Product Committee (HMPC) was set up to advance herbal products development.
“Parts of the efforts to advance herbal products development informed the setting up of the Nigerian Herbal Medicine Product Committee (HMPC) by the Director-General, NAFDAC.
“The platform brings together Manufacturers, Academia, Researchers and relevant stakeholders by bridging the gap often created between traditional medicine practitioners (possible patent holders) and drug manufacturers, whose responsibility it would be to formulate the products,” she said.
Ms Adeyeye said the agency would ensure that only medicinal products including herbal remedies that have proven safety data would be approved for use by the public.
She said herbal medicines are listed based on a historical perspective on the use of the products after carrying out toxicological and microbiological evaluations in the laboratories.
“The listing status is valid for two years and is renewable,” she said.
She, however, said such listing does not validate the efficacy claims being made for the products hence, the labels must bear a disclaimer informing the consumer ‘The claims have not been evaluated by NAFDAC’.
She said this minimum requirement of ‘proof of safety’ is the agency’s way of encouraging the production of herbal remedies from the country’s rich diversity of plants.