President Muhammadu Buhari, who received portions of the drug from Guinea Bissau President Umaro Sissoco Embalo on Saturday, said the drug must be verified before use.
Garba Shehu, presidential spokesman, quoted Buhari as saying the drug will go through the verification process which other remedies for the disease are being subjected to.
“We have our institutions, systems and processes in the country. Any such formulations should be sent to them for verification. I will not put it to use without the endorsement of our institutions,” Buhari said.
The drug, which is branded as herbal tea and named COVID-Organics, was launched on April 20, with its main ingredient being sweet wormwood (Artemisia annua), a plant of Asian origin from where the antimalarial drug, artemisinin, came.
At least 55 COVID-19 patients in Madagascar have recovered after being treated with the remedy.
During the launch, Madagascar’s President Andry Rajoelina had said: “All trials and tests have been conducted and its effectiveness in reducing the elimination of symptoms has been proven for the treatment of patients with COVID-19 in Madagascar.”
But the herbal remedy has remained a subject of controversy. Madagascar’s national medical academy had cast doubt on its efficacy while the World Health Organisation (WHO) said it is still being studied.
Top Nigerian medical associations such as the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) and the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN) rejected it, describing the country’s acceptance of the remedy as embarrassing.