Mbarara University of Science and Technology is set to go to a legal battle with Prof Patrick Ogwang of Jena Herbals Uganda limited who is also the creator of Covidex.
The drug has gained momentum after it was certified by the National Drug Authority (NDA) to help in the treatment of viral symptoms after it was alleged that it cures COVID 19.
Prof Ogwang started using his company Jena herbals Limited to market and produce Covidex despite stiff resistance from MUST.
The University claims to own the intellectual property rights of the drug since it was invented under their projects, PHARMABIOTRAC.
The Vice Chancellor of MUST Prof Celestino Obua in a letter dated 14th June detailed that Covidex is wholly owned by the university.
He went ahead to advise Jena Herbals Limited to stop making the drug unless authorised by the university.
Prof Obua added that this drug was manufactured by the university’s staff which Prof Ogwang was part of under the Pharma-Biotechnology and Traditional Medicine Centre (PHARMABIOTRAC).
The Prof vowed to block Jena Herbals from infringing on their product and producing it.
This prompted Jena herbals limited to seek to address the matter legally.
Through Omongole and Company Advocates, Jena Herbals says that MUST is using their product illegally to solicit for funds from the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation.
Prof Ogwang says that the university has not only stopped on wanting to steal his product but they are also illegally using his two other products.
These include Jena Ds Xtra that is used to treat sore throats, rhinitis, dry cough, artemune and to also supplement 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,” an excerpt from Omongole and Company Advocates reads partly.
Jena herbals threatened that if the university does not address this matter quickly, it will be charged over infringing on property rights.
The two parties are not the only one in the Covidex mix as a lawyer known as George William Alenyo filed a petition seeking the High court to order Prof Ogwang to surrender all the money collected from the sale of Covidex so far to the consolidated fund.
Alenyo says that Ogwang is not the lawful owner of Covidex.
This is because Ogwang was and is a public servant who developed the product using the government facilities and resources.
Ogwang, it’s said developed Covidex at Mbarara University’s Pharma Bio centre together with university staff.
However, while appearing on Capital FM’s Desert Island discs, Ogwang said that he developed Covidex from a formula he had been working on to treat wounds in the mouth and dental pain.
Ogwang said that he however developed it with some of his students he had been working with closely.
These included Angupale Jimmy from Arua, Ajayi Clement from Nigeria, Oloro Joseph a student if pharmacology and Ivan Kaawa a master’s student.
Ogwang also says that despite the government pledge to support different scientists from different universities during the COVID 19 pandemic, his application was ignored.
It was instead funded by the former minister of science and technology Dr Elioda Tumwesigye.