FG unveils four herbal products for management of respiratory infection, diabetes

As part of efforts to improve access to essential medicines amid rising costs, the Federal Government has unveiled four herbal products developed by the Nigeria Natural Medicine Development Agency for the management of diabetes and sickle cell disease.

Others are for the treatment of upper respiratory tract infections and reducing fast ageing.

The Minister of Science and Technology, Uche Nnaji, unveiled the products during an official visit to NNMDA in Lagos, recently.

According to the Diabetes Association of Nigeria, more than 11 million Nigerians are living with diabetes with warnings by experts that the number may double by 2045 if urgent measures are not taken to address the trend.

Nnaji, who affirmed FG’s readiness to invest in natural medicine, said the herbal products would serve as substitutes for foreign drugs amid the rising cost of drugs in the country.

The minister said, “I am happy to have verified so many products they have developed. They have those that treat arthritis, diabetes, and hypertension including the four products that I launched this afternoon.

“This is part of the reason why I am here to launch the four products. The drugs are foreign substitutes. You have one for diabetes, you have one for ageing, you have one for sickle cell, and then the one for upper respiratory tract infection that will replace Augmentin. We should be celebrating.”

Nnaji disclosed that the FG plans to create an innovation fund for research and development to support research institutions, stressing that research remains crucial for development.

In August 2023, British multinational drugmaker and biotechnology company, GlaxoSmithKline, announced its exit from Nigeria after 51 years of operation.

Since its exit, the prices of drugs produced by the company have reportedly skyrocketed, becoming scarce.

Pharmacists said GSK’s departure was a minus for the pharmaceutical industry because most pharmacies in Nigeria have one thing or the other to do with GSK, so shutting its operations was not a good signal for the pharmaceutical industry in Nigeria.

They said imported medicines, which formed 70 per cent of the most consumed medicines, recorded a 200 to 300 per cent increase

In his remarks, the Director-General of NNMDA, Prof Martins Emeje, said Nigerians should stop depending wholly on imported drugs for their healthcare needs.

The Professor of Pharmacy said Nigeria can develop herbal medicines that could cure many diseases that appear incurable through orthodox medicines.

The NNMDA DG said, “We can do it. Nobody should make it look like it’s a big deal to do these things. The minister unveiled four products that we started looking at four months ago.

“The products are for upper respiratory tract infection, diabetes, ageing, and sickle cell. We should value local drug manufacturing and stop being dependent on foreign drugs. We should value research.

“By October 2024, the agency will have 11 products that will be unveiled by the President which will create over two million jobs.

“The private sector should provide resources for research and development. Studies have shown that the herbal industry alone will be worth $5 trillion by 2050.”

He noted that Nigeria has the highest biodiversity in Africa and therefore, has a lot to contribute to the herbal industry.


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