Prof Patrick Ogwang, the inventor of COVIDEX and Jena Herbals (U) Ltd, the manufacturers have threatened to sue Mbarara University of Science Technology (MUST) for 100 billion shillings over ownership of the drug.
Through their lawyers of Omungole & Co Advocates, Ogwang and his Jena Herbals (U) Ltd say they have learnt that MUST has “illegally without any authorization used three Jena products; Jena DS Xtra, Artemune and COVIDEX to solicit funding from the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (MoSTI).”
They say that Mbarara University went ahead to evaluate the products of Jena Herbals (U) Ltd without the latter’s consent.
“The contract between Mbarara University of Science Technology and Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation is formed on three Jena Herbals (U) Ltd’s products yet our client was neither involved nor informed,” reads the warning letter from Omungole & Co Advocates to Mbarara University Vice Chancellor.
“We deem this as illegal and a fraudulent action by the University to go ahead with the said action without the authorisation of our client or professor Ogwang personally,” the letter reads.
Ogwang and Jena demanded that Mbarara University ceases “immediately the said fraudulent dealings” on their products, and warned that they will demand 100 billion shillings if the University turns a deaf ear.
“Should the University deem it fit to continue with the said illegal acts, they should be ready to be held liable for infringement of the trademarks, patents and all associated intellectual property rights for which Jena Herbals (U) Ltd will not hesitate to demand for 100 billion shillings for unlawful use of their products.”
The National Drug Authority(NDA) a few weeks ago cleared Covidex for use by the public, and also allowed Jena Herbals Uganda Limited to do mass production.
Mbarara University recently said they host the Pham Biotechnology and Traditional Medicine Centre(PHARMBIOTRAC) which is one of the Eastern and Southern Africa Higher Education Centres for Excellence in Uganda that is fully sponsored by government to help support the development of herbal products in response to the Covid-19 pandemic in the country.
They said it is through this arrangement that they were able to come up with Covidex.
In a June 14, 2021 letter, Prof Celestino Obua, the Mbarara University vice-chancellor said that Covidex is fully owned by the university and that Jena Herbals Uganda Limited, the company owned by Prof Ogwang should stop manufacturing the product unless the University permits.