Covidex boss urged to hand over clinical trials to Health Ministry
Covidex developer Professor Patrick Ogwang said the government had ordered him to hand over oversight of clinical trials to the Department of Health to eliminate bias and ensure reliable results.
“There was a decision that the Ministry of Health is managing the clinical trials for Covidex, so everything was given to the ministry. They are the ones who know the related information,” he told Monitor last week by phone when asked about the progress of the trials.
Professor Ogwang, a clinical pharmacologist, without revealing names, said independent health experts from Makerere and Mbarara universities would be behind the trials.
He said the trial would cost Shs 2 billion, money which Dr Monica Musenero, Minister of Science and Technology, said would be provided by the government. The Covidex developer announced last year that trials would begin in July 2021, but that did not happen as Dr Musenero said the government was still processing the money.
Dr Samuel Ikwaras Okware, Director General of the Uganda National Health Research Organization (UNHRO) – a semi-autonomous body under the Ministry of Health which oversees health research in the country, could not be reached for a comment at press time.
But a senior source in the ministry said most of the requirements for the trials had been met.
“All authorizations for the trials have been obtained. A clinical trial agreement has been signed between the principal investigator and the sponsor (government). The trial will begin soon,” the source said.
Covidex has already received initial approval from the National Drug Authority (NDA) as a supportive treatment for Covid-19, but it can only be approved as a treatment after clinical trials.
There were also heated arguments and verbal attacks between the developer of the drug and Mbarara University – the institution where the product was developed, over who should own the product, but Professor Ogwang later became the real owner.
Dr Bruce Kirenga, director of the Makerere University Lung Institute, which is working with the government to develop a protocol for testing herbal medicines, said they were getting a facility at Mulago Hospital to do tests. herbal experiments.
“We’re going to design our own adaptive protocol, which is the backbone. This means anyone with a natural product, we can evaluate the product very quickly using a mix of modern methods but also keeping in mind the specifics of these herbal medicines,” he said.
He added: “We’re hoping this year we’ll be evaluating a couple of herbs – lots of people have products that claim to cure diabetes, cancer, and what we want to do is experiment and if they don’t work … »
Dr Charles Olaro, director of clinical services at the Ministry of Health, said what Prof Ogwang said was true but did not elaborate.