Covidex Row: Prof. Ogwang Tells Mbarara University to Back-off his Innovation

A photo montage of Prof Patrick Ogwang, the developer of the product and founder of Jena Herbals Limited (L) and a bottle of Covidex (R). /COURTESY PHOTO

Mbarara, Uganda | AFRICATEMBELEA | Professor Patrick Ogwang, the owner of Jena Herbals Uganda Limited and inventor of the COVID-19 treatment supplementary drug known as Covidex has told Mbarara University of Science and Technology-MUST to back off his innovations.

After attaining approval of the National Drug Authority (NDA), Prof. Ogwang has been using his company Jena Herbals Uganda Limited produce Covidex. However, this came with resistance from Mbarara University which claims the intellectual property rights of the product.

In his June 14 letter, Prof. Celestino Obua, the Mbarara University vice-chancellor, stated that Covidex is fully owned by the university adding that Jena Herbals Limited should desist from manufacturing the product unless the university permits.

Prof. Obua noted that Covidex was developed by the University staff, including Prof. Ogwang, under Pharm-Biotechnology and Traditional Medicine Centre thus vowing to block Jena Herbals Uganda Limited from undertaking mass production of their product.

Now, Omongole and Company Advocates acting on the instruction of Jena Herbals Uganda Limited says the university is illegally using their products to solicit funding from the Ministry of Science, Technology, and Innovation.

Through the law firm, Prof. Ogwang says the university is not only clinging on Covidex but also illegally using two other products of his company including Jena Ds Xtra, which is used to treat dry cough, sore throats, and rhinitis, and Artemune, a supplement for HIV patients.

“The contract between Mbarara University of Science and Technology and the ministry of science, technology, and innovation is formed on three Jena herbal products yet our client was neither involved nor informed. We deem this an illegal and fraudulent action by the University and urge the university not to go ahead with the said action without authorization of our client or Professor Ogwang personally,” the notice from Omongole and Company Advocates reads in part.

Jena herbal further warns that should the university keep a deaf ear over the matter, it will be held property rights.

This notice to Mbarara University comes hours after George William Alenyo, a lawyer, filed an application seeking High court orders to compel Ogwang to remit all monies collected from the sale of the popular supplementary treatment drug to the consolidated fund, claiming he’s not the lawful proprietor of Covidex.

Alenyo, just like MUST, claims that Prof Ogwang, a Public Servant, developed the product at the government of Uganda facilities and laboratories and with the staff of MUST and Pharma Bio Centre which makes the product a property of the government.

Appearing Capital FM’s Desert Island Discs last week, Prof Ogwang noted that he develops Covidex from the formula he was working on for wounds in the mouth and dental pain.

He noted that he worked with a group of his students at Mbarara university including Oloro Joseph, a student of pharmacology; Ajayi Clement from Nigeria; Angupale Jimmy from Arua, and another master’s student Ivan Kaawa.

Prof. Ogwang said that although the government supported scientists from different universities to come up with innovations during the covid19 pandemic, his application for the same was ignored. He noted that his project was only funded by the former minister of Science and Technology Dr. Elioda Tumwesigye.


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