The Federal Government says there are pharmaceutical processes and standards that must be observed before endorsing any proposed herbal or homegrown drug for use by coronavirus patients in the country.
The Minister of State for Health, Olorunnimbe Mamora, made this known on Friday during a briefing by the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 in Abuja.
He said the health ministry would soon meet with scientists, researchers, and traditional medicine specialists in the country who have registered that they have one drug or the other for the treatment of the lethal virus.
He noted that the National Agency for Food, Drug Administration and Control would test such drugs to ascertain whether they are fit for human consumption or not, adding that the drugs would undergo clinical trials that require a few COVID-19 patients to willingly accept to use them.
Responding in Yoruba Language to a question asked by a reporter from an indigenous TV station, the minister said, “We are still on it. We are still collecting interests and research findings from those who have said they have herbal drugs for the treatment of coronavirus.
“A lot has been said on herbs and some other concoction prepared for the treatment of the disease but we can’t start administering it on patients as there are laid-down guidelines on the testing and approval of drugs before they are dispensed to patients.
“The first step is that NAFDAC must check the effectiveness of the drugs and examine if they are fit for human consumption.
“After NAFDAC certifies the drugs as okay for consumption, we will then hand it over to doctors and clinicians. But even before it gets to this stage, there must be volunteers for clinical trials. We have to test it on volunteers who will put it in writing that they accept to use it.
“After the clinical trials, we will observe these volunteers for reduced symptoms. We will record this and also examine the side effect of the drugs. We must observe all these processes, so it is not a quick one. We will hold a meeting with the people who have said they have one drug or the other for the treatment of COVID-19.”
Also, the Chairman of the PTF and Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, encouraged scientists in the country to come up with home-based drugs for the treatment of the infection.
“There is no single cure to COVID-19 that I know of from all the literatures. Everybody is trying his hands on one thing or the other, even bigger economies with established medical infrastructure. Today it is Hydroxychloroquine, tomorrow it is another thing. And after a while, you hear those treatment prescribed being discredited.
“We are looking at all the options and suggestions. We are looking at what is happening in Senegal, Madagascar and we are also looking internally and urging our scientists and researchers to come up with solutions and go through revalidation processes, who knows, a cure can emerge from our country.
“We will continue to push the agenda for a local solution but if help comes from outside, we will receive it,” the SGF said.