The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) has urged herbal medicine practitioners to collaborate with researchers to make herbal products internationally acceptable after clinical trials.
Prof. Mojisola Adeyeye, the Director-General of the agency, made the plea on Tuesday.
Adeyeye said in a statement that the African Traditional Medicines Day that holds every Aug. 31 should be a daily reflection of who we are as Africans.
She said that many Nigerians were using herbal medicine every day.
“NAFDAC has been focussing on making traditional herbal medicines prominent with regards to its activities.
“To this end, in March 2019, long before the advent of COVID-19 in Nigeria, we called for a meeting of all stakeholders including academia, herbal medicine practitioners and legal practitioners.
“The essence of the meeting was to engender a culture of collaborative efforts aimed at promoting research, discovery and production of herbal products,” she said.
According to her, herbal medicines renaissance in Nigeria had already begun.
She said the country has the biodiversity and complementary human capital to sustain herbal medicines production.
“The Federal Government, through the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), is making loans available to qualified manufacturers of pharmaceutical products.
“The CBN has also launched the Health Sector Research and Development Intervention Scheme to fund successful proposals on translational R&D and manufacturing of therapeutics, herbal medicines and medical devices for infectious diseases, including COVID-19.
“In addition, the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) is funding COVID-19 related herbal medicines clinical trial research through NAFDAC administrative oversight.
“The agency currently has about 40 applications on COVID-19 related herbal medicines submitted by interested parties, many of these are for listing, while only very few are for clinical trials.
“It is important to note that while the listing of herbal product guarantees safety, it is for two years at the first instance.
“An herbal product that has successfully gone through clinical trials would receive NAFDAC full registration and the claims of efficacy and cure can then be made by applicants,” she said.
Adeyeye said that further step to enhance collaborative efforts between the various stakeholders in the herbal medicines industry was the institutionalisation of confidentiality agreement among the parties.
“NAFDAC Legal Services Directorate developed the document and will broker the agreement.
“This is necessary to assure traditional practitioners that intellectual property will not be lost in the process of collaboration.
“The Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, Trade Mark Office, National Office for Technology Acquisition and Promotion and patent legal practitioners in the area of protection of intellectual property were brought into discussions with the researchers and practitioners by the agency.
“NAFDAC development of modalities for registration of herbal products is to encourage the growth and standardisation of the sector,” the director-general said.
She said that the ultimate goal, with regards to traditional herbal medicines was to come up with products that were not only marketable in the country, but also acceptable globally.
Adeyeye said this could only happen when NAFDAC, as the regulatory authority, subjects products that were submitted for approval to global standards.
She, however, encouraged everyone with products to bring their applications forward.
According to her, registration procedures are already made simple through the published template of required documentation, guidance on registration and clinical trials and the agency’s online platform.