Gulu University has said that they are ready to conduct clinical trials for Covilyce-1, a herbal medicine.
A clinical trial is a stage where experiments are conducted to obtain sufficient evidence that a drug can be considered effective as a medical treatment.
Three weeks ago, a group of more than ten scientists at the University started packing four different concoctions which they said they have been administering to Covid-19 patients in the community since January 2021. The university scientists led by Dr Alice Veronica Lamwaka announced that 100 Covid-19 patients who used Covilyce-1 had recovered.
On Tuesday, the National Drug Authority (NDA) ordered Gulu University to cease production of Covilyce-1, saying it has not yet been approved.
However on Thursday, President Museveni while meeting a team of scientists from Gulu University gave the University the go-ahead to continue the development of the herbal drug.
Speaking to Members of Parliament on the Covid-19 task force, Dr Lamwaka said that they are moving to carry out clinical trials with designed protocols following the positive response from those who have used the medicine. She however says they need funding to conduct the clinical trials.
According to Lamwaka, the results of the study will help them to set up a traditional medicine hospital in Northern Uganda alongside modern systems. She also called for support from the Pharmaceutical Society of Uganda.
“This is a unique research experience which is difficult to cover and keep underground, particularly where there is evidence of massive full recovery from clients, coupled with a dramatic reduction in infection rate in the Acholi sub-region where the formulations were done,” she says.
The Bar-Dege Layibi Division MP Martin Ojara Mapenduzi asked the different scientists, Ugandans and Government agencies among others to support the initiative by the university.
Jonam County MP Emmanuel Ongiertho said that Parliament should allocate more funds for research in other universities like it’s done for Makerere University.
“It makes other universities think they are inferior when it comes to research, so we will make sure in the education committee we do advocate that Universities get their share of research funds,” Ongiertho said.
Abias Rwamwiri the NDA spokesperson says that every step in drug development is critical.
“If she is to go for a clinical trial, NDA will be involved as we are mandated to approve and monitor clinical trials to be undertaken in Uganda,” Rwamwiri says.
NDA assesses the clinical trial application including the clinical research protocol which has been vetted by an accredited Research Ethics Committee and cleared by the Uganda National Council for Science and Technology before submission to NDA.
In public health emergencies, if there is a need to fast-track the process, a joint review mechanism by all relevant regulatory bodies has been put in place and is coordinated by the Uganda National Council for Science and Technology.
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