Powerful Christian Lobby Sues Covidex Inventor, Says Drug Belongs to All Ugandans

A powerful international lobby has dragged Professor Patrick Ogwang to the High Court Civil Division, seeking a declaration that he is not the lawful proprietor of Covidex and must be forced to remit all monies collected from selling it to the Consolidated Fund.

The Christian Chamber of Commerce, Agriculture, Industry, Trade and Tourism boasts of having the largest database on companies in the world and seeks to promote access to companies’ data worldwide so as to enable people to know who they are working with or working for. They have not submitted evidence purporting to prove that Covidex was developed by solely using government resources and the manpower used including Professor Ogwang was under the employment of the state, drawing salaries from the consolidated fund.

Furthermore, the plaintiffs  aver that several statutory bodies failed in their duty to protect the interests of Ugandans whose resources – financial and natural – were abused for Professor Ogwang’s personal benefit.

Working with Ugandan lawyer George William Alenyo, the petitioners are thus suing Ogwang jointly with a dozen statutory bodies that allegedly failed to perform their duties such like doing due diligence to establish the true ownership of Covidex drug, failure to collect tax and remit it to the Treasury, failure to obtain environmental impact assessment of the impact of the ongoing extraction or exploitation of millions of the tree to make millions of vials of Covidex. 

The statutory bodies being sued with Ogwang are  National Drug Authority, Uganda National Bureau of Standards, National Environmental Authority, National Forestry Authority, Mbarara University of Science and Technology, Uganda Registration and Services Bureau, Pharmaceutical Society of Uganda, Uganda Revenue Authority, Natural Chemotherapeutics Research Institute, Uganda Wildlife Authority and the Attorney General.

But the 12th respondent, interestingly, is Jena Herbals Uganda Limited, Professor Ogwang’s company, which has already prepared to take Mbarara University to court over illegally entering a deal with government over its Covedex and two other products without its (Jena Herbals Uganda Limited) permission.

 Jena says it will demand one hundred billion shillings from Mbarara University should they not immediately stop entering dealings over Covedex, and its other inventions without their permission or express permission of Professor Ogwang.

The petitioner argue in particular that Mbarara University was established through the efforts of the late Cuban leader Comrade Fidel Castro through the 1989 Solidarity Agreement to benefit The People of Uganda, which was later supported with a World Bank facility that established the Pharma Bio Technology and Traditional Management Centre for promoting herbal and natural products in Africa..

But according to the petitioners, in June 2021 Professor Ogwang, while working as a Public Servant who draws his salary from the consolidated fund at Mbarara University and the Pharma Bio Centre, applied in his personal name and obtained clearance from the NDA to sell and personally collect revenue from a drug called Covidex, developed at the government of Uganda facilities and laboratories and with staff of MUST and Pharma Bio Centre. 

The petitioners say the patent on the drug rightfully belongs to the government and so describe Ogwang’s action as an “attempt to own another’s patent on Covidex in trust for The People of Uganda”. They want him condemned to general damages and a permanent injunction to be issued against him from claiming the Covidex patent.

Ogwang and his 12 co-respondents have been ordered by the Civil Division Registrar Jamson Karemani to file their defense within 15 days and the case has been allocated the file to the head of Civil Division Justice Musa Ssekaana who will in due course fix a date for hearing

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