Iwu explains why work on bitter kola for Ebola stalled



The President, Bioresources Development Group (BDG), Professor Maurice Mmaduakolam Iwu has revealed that the reason why the research on bitter kola as a drug for Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) was not concluded was because it wasn’t a priority for them then.

Iwu who spoke to The Guardian at the 3rd Nigeria Annual Clinical Trial Summit in Lagos, yesterday said that he did a research into bitter kola as a drug for Ebola in America in 1999 after the outbreak of Ebola disease in Congo while he was working in America but it was inconclusive.

He noted that the research was stopped because it wasn’t something in their priority, adding: “Our priority was malaria, diarrhoea, diabetes, hypertension.”

Continuing, he said: “Ebola is not malaria. It is not something that happens all the time. We did investigate the drug in 1999 when there was an outbreak in Congo. We learnt from there. We tested it there. It is not something that happen everyday.

“Now since Ebola got curtailed you can see that nobody is talking about it anymore as before. It is such a sporadic disease that research is going on about it. It is not something that you fast track that will remove every other things that you are doing.”

Stressing that Africa had a lot of other challenges bothering them, which needed more attention, Iwu however disclosed that the study has been kick started again and emphasized the need for collaboration with the private sector and other scientists to make it a success.

“This is a study that will take a lot of time and a lot of funds and resources to build,” Iwu said. “But we have other priorities like malaria and so many things that affect Africa. So it is important but it is not priority. We have gone back to it now and study is going on.

“We collaborated with an American Institute of Health, for the retesting and they did their work. We are also developing it to the next level, that is why publicly, we are inviting other scientists to come and collaborate with us since our own hindrance is not money or anything it is the process.

“There are certain things you cannot fast tract. Drug development is one of them. We follow the sequential procedure. That is what we are following.

“It is the private sector that will help but the private sector have their roles to play. Those people who have money should seek private sector support and make money and the private sector will make money and the product will be developed. That is what is happening. If you don’t have private sector participation it is not as fast,” he said.

He finally called on government and relevant stakeholders to help in making the work a success and make the product a proud quality product of the country that it can be proud of.

“The onus is on us to improve on the quality and the content of our own products so that we would be able to be competitive. The onus is on our government to help fund those research that will prove or disprove some of the claims. The onus is on our private pharmaceutical companies to look at the best ideas and put it in the market place.

“Why we are interested in clinical trial is that, it is important as a nation for us to have the ability to be able to subject this products to clinical trials so that they will have a stamp of approval that they have been tested in the higher quality of standard,” he said.

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