National Drug Authority says it has not approved Covilyce 1, a herbal drug developed by Gulu University.
Uganda Radio Network (URN) reported that Gulu University is seeking Shs200m to scale production of its herbal drug it claims can heal coronavirus disease (Covid-19) patients within 72 hours.
Three weeks ago, a group of more than ten scientists from the faculty of Bio-technology and Pharmaceutical Studies (PharmBiotec) started production of four different concoctions which they said they have been administering to Covid-19 patients in the community since January 2021.
The herbal drugs named Covilyce 1 come in form of powder, nasal drops, (anal) suppositories and (syrup) Linctus were formulated from eight different herbs.
Dr Alice Lamwaka, a senior lecturer at PharmBiotec, revealed that they formulated four drug products, basing on their knowledge of herbs used in treating infections especially during epidemics, and the fact that they already have a unit for traditional medicines at the university.
Last month, the university said it has more than 70 potential Covid-19 herbal drugs lined up for testing. The procedure was however interrupted by the current lockdown.
Lamwaka said these particular herbs were not tested but were subjected to phytochemical analysis to find out what active ingredients are present in them and what diseases they can cure.
Lamwaka claimed that the drugs can cure symptoms of Covid-19 between 12-72 hours of getting treatment. Those with mild symptoms of Covid-19, Lwamaka said, are given the nasal drops in their mouth, ears, and nose and usually get well between 12-72 hours.
Patients whose infections have gone to their chest use the linctus which goes down through the systemic circulation.
Those with comorbidities; Covid-19, hypertension, asthma, ulcers, and diabetes, use the powder in combination with the linctus and nasal drops and cut off viral infection within 12 hours.
Then patients who are unconscious, can’t swallow, on oxygen, or have difficulty breathing, used the suppository, which is administered via the rectum.
Lamwaka said the good feedback from the community that the products work, even in severely ill patients, motivated the team to prepare all the different formulations.
“All those who used our products recovered fully, so it motivated us to prepare the different formulations that we have because we noted that those who have very mild infections can just instil drops in their mouth and nose and the ears and they get better within 12-72 hours,” said Lamwaka.
She estimates that more than 100 people have used their drugs since January 2021.
Lamwaka said they are still manually pounding the herbs using mortar and pestle because they don’t have a grinder, and manually packing the drugs because they don’t have a production line.
She said financial support is needed to help them produce enough for both national and international users.
Currently, the university has assembled more than 200 traditional herbalists previously trained at the faculty, to administer the herbs to covid-19 patients in the community.
“NDA has not approved this product, it shouldn’t be on the market and the innovators have been warned,” the authority said on Monday.
“They confirmed this product is still under lab research and tests. Before we notify a product, it shouldn’t be used as we can’t guarantee it’s safety,” NDA said.
Michael Mutyaba, who heads the traditional medicines division at the National Drugs Authority (NDA), told URN he was not aware of the production of any Covid-19 drugs by Gulu University.
Last month, NDA approved the use of Covidex, another herbal formula made by Prof Patrick Ogwang of Mbarara University of Science and Technology as part of the Covid-19 cure.