The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control says it has received only one application from one company for the endorsement of a product to treat the symptoms of COVID-19 and not the virus itself.
NAFDAC said all other claims about a possible cure for COVID-19 in Nigeria only exist on social media and the pages of newspapers.
The Director-General of NAFDAC, Prof. Moji Adeyeye, said this in a statement on Wednesday.
The agency was reacting to the several claims made by experts in the media that they had a cure for COVID-19.
The statement read in part, “In a bid to discover a cure, therefore, the public has witnessed quite a number of claims from different quarters – complementary and 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.
“NAFDAC as of the time of this press release has only received an 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.”
The agency said a claim of a cure must be subjected to clinical evaluation through well-controlled, randomised clinical trials following an approved clinical trial protocol.
The agency admitted that Africa is indeed blessed with herbs but stated that all possible cures must pass all scientific testing before approval.
NAFDAC stated, “That Africa as a continent is blessed with diverse plants and herbs that constitute a source of food and medicine is incontrovertible. The drugs of today’s modern society are products of research and development by major pharmaceutical companies.
“Among the most important raw materials researched and developed are naturally occurring materials obtained especially from plants. It should be mentioned also, however, that many plants are similarly very poisonous.”
As the agency that has been saddled with the mandate of safeguarding the health of the citizenry, NAFDAC said it would continue to make sure that only medicinal products including herbal remedies that have proven safety data would be approved for use by the public.
It said it only lists herbal medicines based on a historical perspective on the use of the products after carrying out toxicological and microbiological evaluations in the laboratories to ensure that they are, at the minimum, safe. The listing status is valid for two years and is renewable.
NAFDAC 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’.
It 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.