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Pax herbal remedy not approved as Covid-19 treatment, says Nigeria’s drug control agency

Nigeria’s food and drug control agency has approved a certain herbal mix as a treatment for Covid-19, claims a message circulating widely on Facebook since 10 July 2020.

“NAFDAC approves PAX Herbal Remedy for Covid-19,” it begins. Nafdac is Nigeria’s National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control.

The message says Anslem Adodo, director of the Pax Herbal Clinic and Research Laboratories in Edo state, announced the approval.

“After a series of screening, spanning eight weeks, NAFDAC has today approved our PAXHERBAL Covid-19 herbal drug, PAXHERBAL CUGZIN, for public use,” it quotes him as saying.

“It is the first to be so approved and presently the only one. The drug is specifically for treating the symptoms associated with the coronavirus.”

One version of the message has been viewed more than 16,000 times. It’s also appeared on WhatsApp and in a website article.

But what’s the real story here?

Reports of approval ‘wrong and inaccurate’

Nafdac regulates and controls the manufacture, import and export, advertisement, distribution, sale and use of food, drugs, cosmetics, medical devices, chemicals and packaged water in Nigeria.

On 11 July, the agency tweeted a statement that it had not approved the herbal remedy as “safe to use” as a Covid-19 treatment. 

“Paxherbal applied for Listing of Pax Herbal Cugzin capsule 290mg which was approved by NAFDAC and Listed as ‘Safe to use’,” the tweet reads. “The applicant claimed that it is an immune booster and an anti-infective.”

An anti-infective is a medicine that prevents or treats an infection.

“However, as part of the labelling of the product, and in line with global practice, a Disclaimer is on the product label which clearly states that THE CLAIMS HAVE NOT BEEN EVALUATED BY NAFDAC,” Nafdac added

“Therefore the statements circulating on social media that NAFDAC has approved Paxherbal products ‘specifically for treating symptoms associated with Coronavirus’ is WRONG and INACCURATE.”

Twenty-one herbal drugs ‘for Covid-19’ in testing

The agency added that it was “currently processing Twenty-One (21) herbal medicinal products for ‘Safe to use’ or Listing status”.

Many applications claimed the products were immune boosters and anti-infectives that could be used to treat Covid-19 symptoms, it said. But none were backed by clinical studies that proved they worked.

As of 13 July, Nigeria had more than 33,000 confirmed cases of Covid-19, with 744 reported deaths. – David Ajikobi

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