A mild drama played out Thursday in Abeokuta, the Ogun state capital when officials of the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) disrupted the “unveiling” of an anti-coronavirus herbal syrup.
Christened, “Oxibiotics”, the herb produced by a herbal medicine expert, Paul Oni, was to be unveiled at a press conference at Centenary Hall, Ake, Abeokuta, but officials of the NAFDAC from the state’s office stormed the venue and ordered cancellation of the programme.
The officials also went further to inspect the factory where the product was being produced and sealed it indefinitely.
A top official of NAFDAC who spoke to Blueprint under the condition of anonymity, insisted that the programme was stopped because the product has not been certified scientifically.
He alleged that the producer of the herb had planned to secretly release the products to the public without the knowledge and approval of NAFDAC.
The official said, “The producer is a client. He knows the procedures having secured NAFDAC number for some of his products in two different occasions. But this product in particular has not passed through the NAFDAC processes. Besides, he did breach advertisement control policy by advertising the product.
“And he deliberately did not invite us to the programme. If truly it’s a certified product he would have invited us. So, we just got the hint this morning that’s why we went there to stop the programme. We equally went to his factory and sealed the factory,” he added.
But in a swift reaction, the herbal producer denied the allegation that he planned to release the syrup for public use without the approval of the agency.
Oni insisted that he did not bypassed the procedures of NAFDAC, but said the programme was meant to seek partnership, support and raise for funds for the product to undergo the proper processes and certification.
Oni, who is the Managing Director of Peculiar Projects Nigeria Limited, explained that he only produced a few number of the herbal syrup to showcase to journalists and not in large quantity for sale.
He described the herb as “anti – viral and anti – malignant agent” capable of curing COVID – 19.
Oni, a retired military officer, said all efforts to secure partnership and support of the Minister of Health and other major stakeholders have not yielded positive results.
In his words: “The normal cost that you will incur in going through the NAFDAC process is about N600,000 which does not include the clinical trials of N1.5 million. So, when I saw the cost, I concluded that I should seek for help through a press conference. I am sure this herb can help people that have contracted COVID-19.
“Maybe through that, people will come to help me, NAFDAC will come to help me and give me a weaver. Nigeria Institute for Medical Research will hear what I have said about them and they will come and assist me.
“This was the purpose of the press conference, I have not produced the Oxibiotics for sale, I just have a couple of bottles that I want to show the NAFDAC and to Nigeria Institute for Medical Research as sample,” he said.
Oni, however, said he would not be discouraged by the actions of NAFDAC and vowed to do everything legally possible to ensure that his product see the light of the day.