NAFDAC to Speed-Up Lab Evaluation of Madagascar Drug

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The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control, NAFDAC, has hinted on its plan to accelerate the laboratory evaluation procedure for the safety and efficacy of the Madagascar herbal formulation, Covid Organics.

The agency’s statement came on the heels of the presentation of the Madagascar syrup to President Muhammadu Buhari on Saturday, by his counterpart, President Umaro Sissoco Embalo of Guinea Bissau.

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Explaining the duration for the laboratory examination of the drug to be completed, the agency said the process would be prioritised without compromising the efficiency of the process, as against the normal procedure of three months.

NAFDAC’s Director of Public Relations, Dr Abubakar Jimoh, in a report published by Sunday Punch, 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.

“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”, he stressed.

Receiving the Madagascan made herbal mixture in Abuja Saturday, Buhari had insisted that the formulation will be subjected to scientific validation before it will be administered on citizens.

Meanwhile, the Nigerian Medical Association, NMA, had earlier kicked against the development, saying it is counter-productive, as it is seen as an act to discourage local research and development towards getting solution to the pandemic.

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In a health policy advisory jointly signed by NMA president, Dr Francis Faduyile, and General Secretary, Dr Olumuyiwa Odusote, the association said such a move was bound to discourage local research efforts.

“The acceptance of the herbal remedy from Madagascar ‘Covid Organics’ by the federal government is an act of pulling all stops in search of remedial interventions in protecting the lives of our citizens.

“We appreciate the concerns of our colleagues in the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN) and bemoan the situation where Nigeria appears to be lagging and not leading the black race’s response against the pandemic”, the association lamented.

In the same vein, Nigerian pharmaceutical scientists under the aegis of the Nigerian Association of Pharmacists and Pharmaceutical Scientists in the Americas, NAPPSA, have drawn the attention of government to the danger in using non-evidence-based herbal preparations in treating COVID-19, saying it portends grave consequences for the nation.

It recommend that drugs to treat or prevent COVID-19 should be evaluated in randomised clinical trials (RCT).

“Since clinical trials for therapeutics are regulated by NAFDAC, the agency should issue guidance on the development of drugs with direct antiviral activity, immunomodulatory activity or other mechanisms of action. The federal government should also be fully committed to supporting R&D efforts for COVID-19.

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