Following the arrival of the Madagascar herbal formulation for COVID-19 in Nigeria on Saturday, the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) has promised to fast-track the laboratory examination of the drug, named COVID Organics.
The agency, which regulates and controls the manufacture, importation, exportation, distribution, advertisement, sale and use of food, drugs, cosmetics, medical devices, packaged water, chemicals and detergents, noted that the product would be subjected to the normal procedure but that the process would be fast-tracked.
President Muhammadu Buhari while receiving the samples of the product, also known as CVO, from the visiting President of Guinea Bissau, Umaro Embalo, at the presidential villa had noted that he would first “listen to science” before allowing the product or any new medicines to be used in Nigeria.
The President told his guest that the relevant regulatory institutions in the country would need to endorse the product before it could be used by Nigerians.
“We have our institutions, systems and processes in the country. Any such formulations should be sent to them for verification. I will not put it to use without the endorsement of our institutions,” Buhari told Embalo.
Meanwhile, in an interview with Sunday PUNCH, NAFDAC’s Director of Public Relations, Dr Abubakar Jimoh, who spoke on behalf of the agency’s Director-General, Prof Mojisola Adeyeye, noted that the agency would prioritise the laboratory examination of the product once it received it from the authorities.
He said: “When the drug arrives, it will go to the Minister of Health who will in turn hand it over to NAFDAC through the PTF. It is after that we would start our laboratory examination. It will be subjected to the normal procedure.
“We would expedite action on this because everyone is anxiously waiting for the result. We would speed it up but it will still have to go through the normal laboratory analysis and medical evaluation.
“Unlike the orthodox medicine, with the herbal medicine, it is given linctus status, it is not given full registration and that means it has a life span of two years, unlike normal drug that has a life span of five years. So, this is what will be applicable to the Madagascar drug. We would ensure that the claims being made are true.”
When asked how long it could take for the laboratory examination to be concluded, he said the normal procedure was three months but that given the situation at hand, the process would be prioritised without compromising the efficiency of the process.
“The normal mandatory procedure is three months, but under this emergency, we would give it a top priority to come out with urgent results. In the process of the evaluation, if NAFDAC needs to get in touch with the manufacturers we will. It all depends on the analysis in the lab.
“This kind of drug does not go through a clinical trial at this stage; it is only when it wants to go through registration that it will be subjected to clinical trial. We are only going to determine its safety and efficacy now,” Jimoh added.