The Director General of the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Prof. Mojisola Adeyeye, on Sunday explained why the agency has not approved any locally produced herbal medicine for the treatment of COVID-19.
Prof. Adeyeye said no single drug had been found to cure COVID-19.
The NAFDAC boss explained that medicinal products currently available can only reduce symptoms and increase the odds of survival.
She warned researchers and other herbal medicine practitioners to desist from parading unverified medicinal products as suitable for the cure of COVID-19 without NAFDAC approval.
A statement at the weekend in Abuja by NAFDAC’s resident media consultant, Sayo Akintola, said Prof. Adeyeye warned that such an act is a violation of its regulation and protocols. The NAFDAC boss also warned Nigerians against excessive consumption of onions and garlic in the bid to cure COVID-19.
“If you eat too much your breath will be smelling and nobody will want to stay by you,” she said. Prof. Adeyeye admitted that onions or garlic or any of the natural fruits humans eat have antioxidants and nutrients that can help the takers to feel better.
“People might have been using it and they get better. But if it is not documented, it cannot be recognised by NAFDAC for COVID-19. They work on our cells to keep people healthier, but not to cure COVID-19. They help our body to function better. There is no cure for COVID-19 yet,” she said.
Stating that such fruits or vegetables may boost the immune system, Prof Adeyeye added: “Even with that, you still have to protect yourself. If you eat garlic and onion and you don’t use a mask, you will get COVID-19. If you are in a very bad environment, if you don’t wash your hands, you will get COVID-19. So, everything has to be put together.”
“The University of Jos (UNIJOS) said there was a herbal medicine, whether its tea or whatever, that can cure COVID-19. They linked it with the treatment of COVID-19. They did the packaging.
“We did a letter to warn them that they cannot claim something unless it has gone through our listing process. They were trying to sell it to their workers. That is a violation of our own regulatory policies. Nobody should say that this one can cure this or that without going through the NAFDAC listing process.
“There have been one or two cases where the product was being encouraged to be used by people without going through us. When that happens, we give the university a sanction because they are supposed to go through the national regulatory authority in order for us to declare it safe for consumption.”
The NAFDAC boss insisted that her agency has to approve the clinical trial protocol, stressing that if they don’t go through the Nigerian National Health Research Ethics Committee (NHREC), if it is a new product. And if they don’t go through NAFDAC before they start doing their clinical trial, that is a violation of regulatory procedures.
“Without a clinical trial authorised by NAFDAC, nobody can claim that a product can cure COVID-19. Of course, some people might have been using it and they got better. But without being approved scientifically and documented, we may not be able to guarantee that it’s safe for human consumption,” she added.