National Drug Authority approves 2nd herbal Covid-19 drug in Mbarara City

MBARARA – National Drug Authority (NDA) has approved the use of Vidicine, a local herbal complimentary drug for treatment of Covid-19.

This comes barely two months after the government approved Covidex manufactured by Prof. Patrick Ogwang under Jena Herbals Limited.

While addressing journalists at the National Social Security Fund (NSSF) building in Mbarara Wednesday, Edward Kazire, the Principal Investigator and a renowned proprietor of Kazire Health Products Limited said the approval comes after various assessment and inspection of the factory manufacturing facility in Mbarara.

“One year ago, we started on this battle of Covid-19 management when the country was in a big panic; as you are well aware that we had few support machines in most of our health facilities,” said Kazire.

He says through Chinese experts, the Kazire Health Products Limited scientific team was able to first study the virus movements to embark on research, hence manufacturing the drug to deal with the virus.

“It was not easy but we are grateful to the Chinese scientists who quickly gave us the sequence of the virus because without understanding the sequence of this virus it would not be easy for us to understand how we could quickly deal with this virus and handling it,” Kazire explained.

“Tonight, I would like to inform Ugandans and the world of science, that the journey of finding this solution is taking shape. We registered a landmark step on the 16th August, 2021 when National Drug Authority notified our herbal medicine under the brand name Kazire Vidicine. This notification permits that our drug can now be manufactured at large scale and be sold in all registered and accredited pharmacies, and drug shops across the country,” he added.

“It is to stop inflammation and protect the lungs and keep oxygen levels up so that there is less risk for you to need Intensive Care Units (ICUs) which are limited. It also protects the organs and controls the viral replication until when one turns negative,” says Kazire.

In our study, we focused on the molecules of life which would stop the inflammation of the lungs, kidneys and the heart, Kazire adds.

“Once we could do that, we would arrest the Cytokine stone which is the biggest challenge where the health workers give up and we lose people,” he said.

“That’s why today we are having a lot of people who are treated and become Covid-19 negative but they still die because the organs are already incapacitated.

He says that they collected a set of more than 50 plants and screened them to identify molecules within the plants that are within our vicinity.

He thanked Mbarara University of Science and Technology where studies, standardisation and identification of molecules were conducted.

“We could not do this but with the support of Mbarara University of Science and Technology, we were able to do that because we could run HPRC tests and we could identify the presence of molecules,” Kazire explained.

According to Sedrack Atuhaire, the Research Assistant at Kazire Health Products Ltd, Mbarara University of Science and Technology Vidicine was used to treat more than 290 Covid-19 patients in the districts of Mbarara, Kampala, Sheema, Ntungamo and Rukungiri before being approved by NDA officials.

“We treated more than 290 Covid-19 patients at their homes. Supplemented with this product, none of them went for oxygen so that is one major landmark that we know we have achieved,” says Sedrack.

Vidicine is the second Covid-19 complimentary drug after Covidex, formulated from herbal plants from Mbarara University of Science and Technology laboratories.

Kazire says, he sank almost Shs 370 million to manufacture Vidicine drug.

“We have already injected in around Shs 370 million in this research. It was only possible because we were working in partnership with Mbarara University of Science and Technology that’s why the cost became so low but if you are to do it as an independent researcher you can’t manage.”

Each bottle of Vidicine goes for Shs 10,000 in pharmacies and drug shops.

“We want it to be affordable for the people so it shouldn’t cost more than oxygen. If it costs more than a unit of oxygen then we will not have provided a solution,” says Kazire.

The drug manufacturer said he will not just sit back but will continue doing everything humanly possible to turn the effects of Covid-19 virus to the level of a simple flu that can be managed through home care.

Kazire further challenged scientists to manufacture more scientific innovations to address the financial challenges they encounter during their practices rather than going for strikes.

“Let us have a focus to solve our problems. Europe is not coming here to solve our own problems even after Covid-19. There are other serious challenges that are going to come that will still need the attention of scientists,” Kazire emphasised.

He also asked the government to work with international investors who have already succeeded in vaccine production.

“One focal thing the government should do is to have our own vaccine plant, a dry lab is needed at the university. We delayed because we never had great computers which are so fast to do the molecule docking and with strong equipment for bioinformatics,” says Kazire.

Abiaz Rwamwiri, NDA’s spokesperson confirmed that the authority notified Vidicine herbal medicine on 16th August, 2021.

NDA declined tagging the herbal medicine to Covid19 drug but a relief to cough, sore throat and flue.

“The product has been formulated from herbal plants that have been traditionally used to alleviate symptoms of several diseases,” says Rwamwiri.

National Drug Authority Spokesperson stressed that the medicine does not cure Covid-19 but it can supplement the medicine being used by medics to treat Covid-19 patients.

NDA has advised the manufacturer to conduct clinical trials which are the highest level of evidence to ascertain any claims of treatment.

Kazire Health Products Ltd has been on the journey of improving the health of people by providing healthy drinks for the last 26 years.

Despite the invasion of Covid-19, Kazire still encourages Ugandans to maintain the SOPs that include; wearing masks, sanitizing and social distancing.

“While in America, people are now rioting that they no longer want to put on masks. Uganda is tending towards the third wave and this is more likely to be more terrible than the second wave. But the use of masks, washing of hands and social distancing is scientific and if we follow all these procedures, I am very sure that we shall win this battle,” says Kazire.

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