Uganda has approved the use of Covidex, a local herbal medicine, as a supporting treatment for viral infections, including Covid-19.
Addressing journalists in Kampala on Tuesday, National Drug Authority (NDA) executive director David Nahamya said after various assessments and inspection of the factory manufacturing the herbal medicine, they have approved its use to support treatment of viral infections.
"After engagements, the innovators have removed unsubstantiated claims that the product treats and prevents Covid-19 and revised it to supportive treatment in management of viral infections. NDA has granted Covidex an approval based on initial assessment, published literature and safety studies conducted by the innovator," Mr Nahamya announced.
The product has been formulated from herbal plants that have been traditionally used to alleviate symptoms of several diseases.
However, Mr Nahamya stressed that the medicine does not cure Covid-19 but it can supplement the medicine being used by medics to treat coronavirus patients.
The drug authority said it will continue to monitor the safety of Covidex through its post-market surveillance activities.
"We call upon the public to immediately report any side effects from the use of this product to our toll free line 0800101999," Mr Nahamya added.
The drug, made by Mbarara University scientists led by Prof Patrick Ogwang, had generated debate over its efficacy in treating the dreaded Covid-19.
But to further support the efficacy of the drug for other uses, NDA has advised the manufacturer to conduct random controlled clinical trials which are the highest level of evidence to ascertain any claims of treatment.
NDA had on June 14 asked the manufacturer of the drug to cease sales, citing safety concerns because the medicine had not yet been approved.
However, Daily Monitor reports that the drug, which users claim to be “very effective” against Covid-19 symptoms such as flu, is being ferried to various parts of the country as demand soars.
The Pharmaceutical Society of Uganda said there is still no proven cure for Covid-19 and all medicines (herbal and pharmaceutical) should be given equal chance.