Baba Aisha Herbal Medicine: 10 major takeaways from DUBAWA’s investigation

On Saturday, DUBAWA and PREMIUM TIMES published an investigation which looked into the production, content, safety and regulatory framework around a popular herbal product; Baba Aisha Herbal Medicine.

Consumed by millions of Nigerians, especially in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), the producer capitalising on ravaging poverty makes false claims to sell his product which goes for just N100.

In the nine-minute advert which attracted our attention and informed our decision to do the investigation, the producer passionately dissuades people from visiting the hospitals and boldly claims a cure for all common diseases.

Here are ten major takeaways from the investigation.

You can read the full-text copy and also watch the full video documentary.

 1. Aggressive advertisement

“Even if you have the intention to go to a hospital, I Dr Salisu Sani say don’t go”

Let’s start with the main reason this investigation was launched. Baba Aisha, in a nine-minute advertisement that plays in every residential community in Abuja made several dangerous claims.

Apart from speaking ill of hospitals, he makes prescriptions for adults and children without any qualification to do so. One would easily notice this advert for these bold claims and the voice-over artist’s apparent lack of fluency in the English Language. It comes as a sort of comic relief to many and has for long been a subject of conversation on social media platforms.

2. Poor presentation

The producer made some attempts at transparency as each medicine bottle carries information about ingredients, a list of potential ailments cured, dosage, storage information, registration number, company details, telephone numbers and a picture of the producer. But somehow, the packaging turned out woefully. For instance, the concoction is sold in an unsealed bottle, and retailers freely add some additives before selling to the public.

3. Two NAFDAC registration numbers

At a time when consumable products manufacturers are working on getting one NAFDAC registration number as an official stamp, Baba Aisha Herbal Medicine carries two – a whole two. We found that one – A7-2590L – is correct, but it expired over three years ago.  A7-2551L is outrightly fake, and NAFDAC notes that it “does not assign two registration numbers to one product.”

4. How was it registered initially?

We found that the producer doesn’t even have the basic requirements to register his product in the first place. We found that his company Sacra Multi-Links Limited is not registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) and the brand name was not registered with the Trademark Registry. 

NAFDAC did not provide any form on the documentation they did during registration when we requested. We requested a report from a quality control laboratory but got no response. How, then, did he get the product registered without doing the basics? Experts suspect connivance within the commission, but we still await an official answer.

5. Efficacy test

The concoction was sent to an independent laboratory for testing using an animal (mice) model. It was first tested for malaria, and we discovered it doesn’t cure the disease. Animals in the two groups administered low and high dosages of Sacra Herbs did not show any positive response to the medicine as a cure. Neither of the doses (100mg per kg nor 30mg per kg) has a curative effect on malaria infection. Therefore, herbal medicine cannot cure malaria as claimed. 

6. Organ damage

Scientists at the laboratory found out that the medicine is a huge safety hazard. Animals administered Sacra Herbs at 100mg per kg suffered severe kidney and liver damage. Even those in the group infected with malaria and not administered a cure had better liver and kidney function. “This is a pointer to the possible damaging components present in the herbal mixture,” the laboratory report says.

7. Safety hazard

All animals in the two groups administered Sacra herbs died within three to six days, meaning the treatment was unsuccessful. This also affirms that the medicine is a high safety risk to users.

8. Cancer lurks

Consumers of the concoction are at a high risk of cancer. Findings in the laboratory show that the toxicological burden of the concoction is in part associated with the dye included, which was confirmed to be tartrazine yellow.  “According to the literature, tartrazine yellow dye is highly toxic to humans even at dosages considered safe,” the report notes.

Tartrazine yellow was found to be three times in excess in the concoction. This is a recipe for lung, liver and kidney cancers, and scientists say it is responsible for organ damage in mice.

9. Dying and smiling

Unfortunately, many still believe in the efficacy of the concoction and have no ears for the safety concerns. Over 80 per cent of people interviewed for the investigation gave positive reviews.

10. Shabby production setting

As against standards prescribed by NAFDAC in its Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP), the concoction is being produced in a residential building. Although we were not granted access, the outlook fell far short of indications by NAFDAC’s GMP. The GMP has many guidelines, from staff specialisation, premises marking, sanitation, storage, and equipment maintenance to water supply systems.

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