Afe Babalola: Nigerian system frustrating researchers

Founder of Afe Babalola University Ado-Ekiti (ABUAD), Aare Afe Babalola, SAN, has expressed concern over the delay often experienced during the process for clinical tests and approval of locally made drugs in the country by concerned institutions.

According to the legal luminary, such bureaucratic bottlenecks have continued to discourage research work by scientists in the country.

Aare Babalola spoke during a conference on Drug Discovery in Africa, tagged, ‘Drug Discovery Africa 2022’ taking place in ABUAD with the theme “Evolving Lead Compounds from Nature”.

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Citing a reference to the claim, Aare Babalola noted his institution produced a covid-19 drug and submitted it for clinical test and approval to the National Agency for Food, Drug and Administration and Control (NAFDAC) but to his dismay, there was no response.

He noted that the country is blessed with scientists who could come up with drugs and medicine to address the numerous diseases in the country but regretted that the systems over the years had continued to discourage them.

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He explained that hundreds of millions were expended by the institution in bringing equipment from abroad for production which almost amounted to a waste of time and resources.

His words: “ I pity Nigerians because there are scientists who can match their counterparts all over the world, our drawback is our system and lack of cutting-edge equipment.

“ For example, the biomedical research on Virucidine was completed at the peak of covid-19 pandemic and approval had been granted nine months later by NAFDAC. Unfortunately, up till now despite spending millions of naira, the clinical trial is yet to be completed due to system inefficiency.

“ This is not different from the experience of the Director General of NAFDAC, Professor Mojisola Adeyeye, who also complained of the inefficiency of the system in approving her anti-sickle cell herb medication.

“ Look at the period of covid-19, Oxford University came up with a vaccine for the pandemic within four months because of the good system for the scientists, but in our country, nothing has been substantially approved after two years.

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“ I hereby appeal to this body to ensure that this bureaucratic bottleneck is immediately removed to ensure that scientists can translate their research into the product in the shortest time possible as done in other climes where within five months they were able to produce drugs and vaccines for covid-19.”

Babalola while commending the group for choosing the institution in hosting the 2022 conference, said ABUAD had over the years provided medical and education solutions to the country, saying,” our university is a better place to host the conference, especially looking at our contributions over the years in the area of drugs.”

Earlier, the leader of the delegation from Germany, Professor Birgit Strodel who commended the institution for the host, said the conference was necessary for bringing scientists and researchers together in the continent towards taking advantage of what nature provides in making drugs for society.

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