FACT CHECK: NAFDAC Did not Approve Herbal Drug for COVID-19 Prevention, Treatment

VERDICT: FALSE

CLAIM

On July 11 2020, several news blogs in Nigeria reported a claim that the National Agency for Food, Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) had approved a PAX herbal drug as an immune booster against coronavirus (SARS-COV-2) 

The various reports claimed that the Director of the Pax Herbal Clinic and Research Laboratories, Reverend Father Anslem Adodo, announced the approval of the drug for the treatment of symptoms associated with COVID-19.

This claim also published by the Guardian Nigeria, trended on social media platforms and WhatsApp.

FACT

NAFDAC did not approve PAX herbal drug as an immune booster against the SARS-COV-2. The immune booster was approved as ‘safe for use’ in Nigeria. 

Paxherbals, also known as Pax Herbal Clinic and Research Laboratories was founded in 1996 by Adodo Anselm. It is a Nigerian alternative medicine product manufacturing company. 

Reacting to the claim, NAFDAC in a disclaimer issued by Professor Moji Adeyeye, Director-General of the Agency, said the Pax Herbal claim is wrong and inaccurate.

Professor Adeyeye said Pax Herbal applied to NAFDAC for the listing of Pax Herbal Cugzin capsule 290mg “safe to use”. 

She said: “The applicant claimed that it is an immune booster and an anti-infective.”

Professor Adeyeye said although the product is approved as safe to use, a disclaimer on it clearly states that the claim by Pax Herbal is yet to be evaluated by NAFDAC.

“Therefore, the statements circulating in the social media that NAFDAC has approved Paxherbal product “specifically for treating symptoms associated with Coronavirus” is wrong and inaccurate,” Professor Adeyeye said.

What Approval Did NAFDAC Give?

In a statement posted on July 11, 2020, on its known official Facebook page sited by our fact-checker, PAXHERBAL said CUGZIN capsule will help to boost body immunity.

The statement also said that there is no officially approved drug for the cure of COVID-19. 

However, hours later, the company listed the herbal drug on its website, PAXYOU.com, as ‘Paxherbal CUGZIN anti-COVID-19 supplement (s) an immune booster and anti-infective herbal supplement.

There was also an additional claim that the drug is the ‘’first herbal supplement to be approved by the Nigeria Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control NAFDAC.‘’

According to NAFDAC’s position, it did not approve Pax Herbal Cugzin capsule as immune booster Specifically for COVID-19 as reported. 

The agency maintained that only drugs that have undergone clinical trials will be approved for targeted treatments of specific ailments including COVID-19. 

Can ‘boosting’ your immune system protect you against COVID -19?

No supplement will cure or prevent disease. 

It’s essential to note that no supplement be it herbal or conventional, diet, or other lifestyle modification other than physical distancing, also known as social distancing, and proper hygiene practices can protect you from getting infected with COVID-19.

Health experts have over the years emphasized that there are no exercises, foods or supplements that truly “boost” the immune system. 

A report by Medical Xpress warned that boosting our immunity will likely be a bad idea since a “boosted” immune system would mean it’s working in overdrive—and that is often synonymous with inflammation and autoimmune disease.’’

The US Center for Biotechnology Information in a report published last year said the only evidence-based approach to ‘boosting immunity to diseases’ is vaccination.  

Akiko Iwasaki, an immunologist at Yale University explained to the BBC that: “There are three different components to immunity. There are things like skin, the airways and the mucus membranes that are there, to begin with, and they provide a barrier to infection. But once the virus gets past these defences, then you have to induce the ‘innate’ immune response.” This consists of chemicals and cells which can rapidly raise the alert and begin fighting off any intruder…

“The problem is that many of these claims have no grounding in evidence,” Iwasaki said. 

Can we support our immune system to fight COVID-19?

Yes, although the answer is much less appealing than the expensive supplement mixtures we read in advertisements and the news. 

Get a balanced diet, with plenty of diversity of plants, fruits, and vegetables,” says Tim. “That will give you all the vitamins and minerals you need.” 

CONCLUSION

The claim that NAFDAC has approved a herbal supplement made by Pax Herbal Clinic and Research Laboratories specifically to boost immunity against COVID-19 is false. 

It’s essential to note that no supplement be it herbal or conventional, diet, or other lifestyle modification other than physical distancing, also known as social distancing, and proper hygiene practices can protect you from getting infected with COVID-19.

CDD, therefore, urges members of the public to always verify all information before disseminating them.

You can also forward suspicious messages for verification at +2349062910568 or contact us on twitter: @CDDWestAfrica.

#StopFakeNews #StopDisinformation