More efforts were made Thursday to clear the controversy over the validity of the HV/AIDS cure purportedly discovered by Prof. Isaiah Ibeh of the University of Benin (UNIBEN). The Dean, UNIBEN School of Basic Medical Sciences, Prof. Vincent Iyawe, and the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) declared that no one, except the health minister, has the power to announce the cure for any major disease.
NAFDAC also dissociated itself from the claim by Ibeh that he had found a cure for the deadly virus.
NAFDAC's Director-General, Dr. Paul Orhii, at a news conference in Abuja, cautioned people from patronising Ibeh or using his drug, as it had not been presented to NAFDAC for evaluation and necessary certification. He added that the efficacy and safety of the cure were yet to be established.
And in what looks like a modification of his claims, Ibeh now says "our research is preliminary and still ongoing."
This is as the university has announced that it has commenced in-house investigation to confirm the veracity of Ibeh's claims.
Lamenting that such spurious claim had been made in the past to the embarrassment of Nigeria, Orhii explained that only the Minister of Health, on the advice of NAFDAC and other relevant bodies, had the power to announce the discovery of any new drug capable of curing any major disease such as HIV/AIDS.
"The agency wishes to state that this herbal drug, which is claimed to have undergone a series of successful tests, has never been presented to the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control for evaluation of its efficacy and safety.
"This bogus claim of efficacy without following the appropriate procedure for drug evaluation is capable of misleading the public, especially those that have HIV/AIDS infection as there is no known official or scientifically proven cure for HIV/AIDS infection to date.
"I wish to caution other persons who might want to follow the footsteps of Prof. Isaiah Ibeh in making public claims for products whose safety and efficacy have not been scientifically proven to desist from such acts. There is a laid-down protocol for determining efficacy and safety of new medicines and this must be strictly adhered to by all," he said.
He added that plans were on to review the laws on improper announcement of cures for diseases before they are properly verified.
A draft of the law, it was gathered, was already with the Federal Executive Council (FEC) for study and approval before presentation to the National Assembly for enactment.
The NAFDAC boss recalled the claims made by Dr. Abalaka and the Managing Director of Winners Medical Diagnostics and Research institute, Mr. Jacob Abdullahi, some years ago that they had found cures for the disease, as well as one Dr P.S.A. Bondima Young of Bondima Hepatovical Centre, Jos, who alleged he had a cure for hepatitis only for such claims to turn out untrue.
Orhii stated that the agency would investigate Ibeh's assertion and if found to be false, he would be sanctioned according to existing laws although he was unable to tell journalists what the sanctions were at present.
He said they would study the extant legal provisions and apply them should the investigation find the drug to be ineffectual and unsafe.
Ibeh, who has come under fire, has been attending series of meetings with the authorities of the UNIBEN, after which he released a statement modifying his claim.
"The publication with reference to our HIV/AIDS research findings was a misinterpretation of what actually transpired," he said.
Ibeh, in announcing his discovery, had told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) Tuesday that "we are at the threshold of making history in the sense that we seem to have with us something that will permanently take care of what over time seems to have defied all solutions."
According to him, his research started in 2010 and culminated in the development of Deconcotion X (DX)-liquid or Bioclean II for the cure of HIV and AIDS.
Speaking on the issue in Benin City, Iyawe called for caution just as he said that an in-house investigation was ongoing to establish Ibeh's alleged discovery.
Iyawe sued for patience among members of the public and professional colleagues.
According to him, researchers have a responsibility to ensure that they follow the requisite procedure and protocol to establish whatever discovery and invention before going to the press, a process, which he pointed out, was not adhered to by Ibeh.