News | South Africa | Health
Despite experts warning against the latest so-called miracle Covid-19 cure, some South African doctors cant wait to get their hands on the veterinarian anti-parasite drug known Ivermectin to treat their patients.
“I have spoken to a few of my colleagues and we are burning to get our hands on Ivermectin. It can really assist in treating patients,” a doctor, who asked to remain anonymous, told The Citizen on Tuesday. His request for anonymity the result of a warning that any doctor found trading or buying Ivermectin will be arrested.
Nevertheless, he could not hide his excitement.
“It is exciting that there is a drug that may generate a better outcome in treating the virus,” the doctor said, claiming that he is not the only doctor yearning to get his hands on the treatment.
“We’ve known about this since June but it has not yet been approved.”
Several doctors and online armchair medical experts have in recent weeks claimed that there is evidence supporting the efficacy of Ivermectin in the prevention and treatment of Covid-19, with a study supposedly finding well described in-vitro properties of Ivermectin as an inhibitor of inflammation. In vitro studies refer to test tube or laboratory studies, and do not include human or animal testing.
Ivermectin was discovered in 1975 and was awarded the 2015 Nobel Prize in Medicine, given its global impact in reducing onchocerciasis (river blindness), lymphatic filariasis, and scabies in endemic areas of central Africa, Latin America, India, and Southeast Asia.
It has also been included on the WHO’s “List of Essential Medicines.”
Professor Ian Sanne at the infectious diseases department at Wits said there is limited data available to support the use of Ivermectin.
“The data is limited from poorly designed and executed studies,” he cautioned.
Read More: Public warned against using Ivermectin to treat Covid-19
Sanne said proper studies are needed before any use of the drug is recommended, reminding that all the country’s regulating authorities have notified doctors not to prescribe the drug.
The South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA) said in a press release last month, Ivermectin is not indicated nor approved for use in humans.
“Ivermectin has made headlines recently as a so-called ‘miracle cure’ for COVID-19. However, SAHPRA’s stance is unambiguous. This drug is not approved by SAHPRA and any attempt to import this drug into the country will be perceived as being unlawful,” the organisation said.
“Ivermectin is not indicated nor approved by SAHPRA for use in humans.”
SAHPRA echoed Sanne’s stance, saying “In terms of safety and efficacy, there is no evidence to support the use of ivermectin and we do not have any clinical trial evidence to justify its use,” CEO of SAHPRA, Dr. Boitumelo Semete-Makokotlela said.
Semete-Makokotlela said the use of such a drug could potentially lead to harmful effects or even death.
“SAHPRA is firm on the stance that this medicine is unproven in the management of COVID-19 infections.”
“Any attempt to import this drug will be dealt with by SAHPRA’s Regulatory Compliance unit in conjunction with law enforcement agencies such as SAPS and the SIU.”
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