National Agency for Food and Drugs Administration and Control has begun a probe into Prof. Isaiah Ibeh’s claim on Tuesday that he had discovered a herbal drug capable of curing AIDS.
Reports quoted the Dean of Basic Medical Sciences, University of Benin as saying the drug had undergone “a series of successful tests”.
The Director-General of NAFDAC, Dr. Paul Orhii, who addressed a media conference in Abuja on Thursday, said the agency had invited Ibeh to prove his claim. He warned members of the public against buying the drug because it had not been subjected to standard scientific protocols.
He said the don was wrong going public, saying it was the duty of the Minister of Health, Prof. Onyebuchi Chukwu, to make the announcement after tests by NAFDAC.
Orhii said the product was never brought to his agency for vetting and neither was it subjected to any institutional scrutiny.
He said, “I wish to caution other persons who might want to follow in the footsteps of Prof. Isaiah Ibeh in making public claims for products whose safety and efficiency have not been scientifically proved to desist from such acts .
“There is a procedure laid down for determining the efficacy and safety of new medicines and this must be strictly adhered to.
“We have started by disassociating ourselves from the so-called cure. We will decide the appropriate sanction. We have invited him for further investigation. If our laws don’t have appropriate punishment for such persons who don’t follow scientific protocols in making such pronouncements, we will review the law and ensure that such does not occur again.”
Orhii added, “The agency wishes to state that this herbal drug, which he claimed to have undergone a series of successful tests, has never been presented to NAFDAC for evaluation of efficacy and safety.
“This bogus claim of efficacy without following the appropriate procedure for drug evaluation is capable of misleading the public, especially those that have HIV/AIDs infection as there is no known official or scientifically proven cure for HIV/AIDS infection till date.
“You may recall that Nigeria was inundated with similar spurious claims in the past when individuals announced cure for HIV/AIDS, hepatitis and diabetes, which later turned out to be false after thorough investigations. This is usually at the expense of innocent citizens, who have risked their lives, wasted their time and money in search of the elusive cure for their ailments. Nigerians deserve better than to be used as Guinea pigs, no matter how noble the intention of the researcher.
“Also recall that in September 2011, NAFDAC arrested the Managing Director of Winners Medical Diagnostics and Research Institute, Dr. Jacob Abdullahi, for dealing in expired medicines claimed to be cure for HIV.
“Similarly, in November 2011, one Dr. P.S.A. Bondima Young of Bondima Hepatoviral Centre, Jos was apprehended by NAFDAC for administering unregistered drugs on patients for the treatment of hepatitis.”
---------FRIDAY OLOKOR, ABUJA/PUNCH FRIDAY, JANUARY 11, 2013