Herbalist held over sexual enhancement drugs

Kampala City herbalist Ashiraf Rashid Lukwago was arrested on August 23, 2023 while at his “clinic” in Kawempe over misleading drug and treatment claims. PHOTO/HANDOUT

What you need to know:

  • NDA explained that the products have potential of serious side effects.

A city herbalist, Mr Rashid Ashiraf Lukwago, has been arrested in connection with unlawful possession of restricted sexual enhancement drugs, banned contraceptives and misleading treatment claims, the National Drug Authority (NDA) has said.

The drug regulator in a statement yesterday said the arrest was made in a joint crackdown with the police on Wednesday evening. 

“Mr Lukwago, who our intelligence team has been tracking for some time, claims that he conducts “blood purification” using “organic” medicine and has been promoting sexual enhancement concoctions that are not approved by NDA,” the drug regulation agency said. 

The agency said their team found several packs of tadalafil, sildenafil (used for management of erectile dysfunction), and the banned Chinese pills. 

The other products included antimalarials and antibiotic drugs, which NDA suspects were used for adulteration of the said “organic” medicine that he claimed treat several conditions such as erectile dysfunction, blood purification, women’s gynaecological infections, among others. 

The drugs are classified under the NDA Act and their handling and prescription are restricted to professional medical personnel. 

NDA explained that the products have potential of serious side effects, including respiratory (lungs) and cardiac (heart) problems, drug resistance due to misuse of antibiotics, urinary disorders and sometimes leading to coma and death.

“Adulteration of herbal concoctions with conventional medicine is not only illegal but also puts the consumers’ health at risk as it causes drug-to-drug interaction, causes high toxicity, among others. Several samples have been sent to our quality control laboratory for testing,” the agency said. 

“The public should remain vigilant and report to NDA any suspicious products or such people,” the drug regulator said. 

It added: “Mr Lukwago is currently being held at Kawempe Police Station and will be produced in court to answer charges, including carrying on the business of a pharmacist without licence, contrary to section 14(3) of the National Drug Policy and Authority Act, cap 206.” 

Similar cases
The arrest of the herbalist came a day after the NDA announced that it intercepted L-power plus coffee, which was adulterated with a regulated erectile dysfunction drug, tadalafil. 

This news also follows the recent discovery by the drug regulator of M-Magix Coffee, the alcoholic product “Stronger Weekend” and the herbal product Embaluka hardcore drink, which were all adulterated with high amounts of the drugs for erectile dysfunction.