News / South Africa

Ilse de Lange
2 minute read
15 Nov 2017
6:30 am

Johannesburg GP takes on health department over malaria capsules

Ilse de Lange

She says her December 2014 arrest for contravening the Medicines Act was unlawful.

Picture: Thinkstock

A Midrand general practitioner (GP) has taken health authorities to court to set aside a decision declaring that their anti-malaria capsules, made from the plant African woodworm, were undesirable.

An urgent application by Dr Barbel Zeisler and her close corporation, Nordman Natural Therapies, against the health minister and director-general, the medicine control council and the registrar of medicines has been postponed in the High Court in Pretoria for further court papers to be filed.

Zeisler wants the court to set aside a November 2013 decision by the Medicine Control Council to declare Nordman Artemesia malaria capsules undesirable and directing that any person in possession of the capsules must return them to the manufacturer.

She alleged in court papers her anti-malaria capsules did not fall within the definition of a Schedule 4 “medicine” in terms of the Medicines and Related Substances Control Act and was in fact a traditional African medicine obtained by drying and grinding to a powder the plant Artemesia afra (also known as African woodworm or umhlonyane).

Zeisler insisted the health department had no jurisdiction over traditional African medicines and that the artemisinin reflected in the medicines Act referred to a manufactured chemical substance that was not identical to the natural ingredient found in the Artemesia afra plant.

She said her December 2014 arrest for contravening the Medicines Act was unlawful and that threats to arrest those who stocked the pills was harmful to the reputation and revenue of her business.

Zeisler said she started researching traditional cures when many of her patients were reluctant to continue with conventional anti-malaria tablets as they suffered from severe side effects and these drugs were not always effective.

The registrar of medicines, Johanna Gouws, said in an affidavit Zeisler’s application would be opposed as the 2013 decision had been taken in the public interest. – ilsedl@citizen.co.za

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