The growing use of herbal medicines, issues relating to reactions to herbal drug use and challenges in monitoring safety formed part of the discussion at the Second Annual Symposium organized by the African Centre of Excellence for Drugs Research, Herbal Medicine Development and Regulatory Science (ACEDHARS), University of Lagos (UNILAG), Nigeria.
The Symposium which was held on Tuesday, July 18, 2023, at the Faculty of Social Science Auditorium, brought together members of the university community, academia,, and captains of industry including the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Mopson Pharmaceuticals, Pharm (Dr.) Michael Oyebanjo Paul.
Themed “Current and Emerging Disease: Herbal Medicine Approach”, the Keynote Speaker, Professor Olobayo Kunle averred that plants have long been recognized for their therapeutic properties. “For centuries, indigenous cultures around the world have used traditional herbal medicine to treat a myriad of maladies”.
According to him, the rise of the modern pharmaceutical industry in the past century has been based on exploiting individual active compounds with precise modes of action. This, he enumerated, has yielded highly effective drugs that are widely used in the clinic, including many natural products and analogues derived from these products, but have fallen short of delivering effective cures for complex human diseases with complicated causes, such as cancer, diabetes, autoimmune disorders, and degenerative diseases.
His words “..the basic information required to strengthen herbal produce globally is there and so we must be able to accept our reality as a people. The fact is we want African traditional medicine to be used all over the world just as we use theirs as well. From this point, we cannot rest our oars as we must continue to put in the works to achieve this”
On his part, the Registrar, Pharmacy Board of Sierra Leone, Pharmacist (Dr.) James Komeh spoke on the sub-theme “Legislative and Regulatory Framework Governing Herbal Medicine Use and Practices in West Africa”.
He posited that despite the apparent lapses in the control and regulation of herbal products, legislative control of medicinal plants has not evolved around a structured control model. As a result, he advocated the strengthening of ways to improve safety, quality, and regulations.
Dr. Komeh also further stated that there are different ways in which countries define medicinal plants or herbs or products derived from them, noting that various countries have adopted different approaches to licensing, dispensing, manufacturing, and trading to ensure their safety quality, and efficacy.
He listed the classes of medicine that are sold by patent shops and drugstores while he warned that punitive measures including retrieval of medicines, the invitation to the PBSL’s Disciplinary committee, closure of premises, and withdrawal of licences should be instituted against outlets that would be found selling drugs that they are not authorized to sell.
With increasing demand for stringent quality norms for global positioning of herbal products, the revered pharmacist re-emphasized the need for the establishment and/or enforcement of policies, regulations and laws for herbal medicines by member states.
Dr. Komeh also suggested that government and training institutions should invest and provide financial support for scientific research on herbal medicines as well as methods to monitor its safety. he urged government to wield the big stick on any drugstore and pharmaceutical outlet that is not compliant to standard health practice.
Earlier, the Vice Chancellor ably represented by the Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Development Services, Professor Ayodele Atsenuwa appreciated the guests and reiterated the university’s mission to deliver excellent qualitative education in Nigeria and be impactful globally.
Similarly, the Chairman of the occasion and founder, Mopson Pharmaceuticals, Pharm (Dr). Michael Oyabanjo Paul appreciated the organizers for a well-put-together symposium. He enumerated the importance of herbal medicine as effective with many adopting its use as an alternative treatment for various diseases, particularly lifestyle diseases that require lifelong pharmaceutical medication.
“It is also believed by traditional medical practitioners that the phytoconstituents present in herbal medicine have better compatibility with the human system”.
While welcoming dignitaries and members of the management team of the university, the Center Leader, Dr. Omobolanle Ade- Ademilua said ACEDHARS research objective is to provide intervention in the production of standard herbal products for the treatment of some prevalent non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in the region as well as enhancing information database for quality control and post-marketing surveillance.
“The Center is into producing, regulating, and Monitoring innovation, research, and productions of Herbal Medicine. She said the Center is alive and ready for the well-being of People”
The Symposium also witnessed the presentation of awards to the speakers including Pharm (Dr) Micheal Oyebanjo Paul and Professor Grace Ukpo, a member of the faculty that retired in 2022.