The department of health in KwaZulu-Natal is launching an investigation after two people ended up in intensive care after they took an overdose of Ivermectin.
Professor Reitze Rodseth, from anaesthetists practice Jones, Bhagwan and Partners, told Weekend Witness that two people in Pietermaritzburg had been treated for using the drug, which is currently only licensed to medicate livestock in South Africa.
Ivermectin, which is being touted by many around the world as a “miracle cure” for Covid-19, has been banned for human use by South Africa’s drugs regulator, the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (Sahpra).
The national Department of Health has also warned people against taking it.
KZN MEC for Health, Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu, said the department had been unaware of the two cases until they read about them on social media.
“As a result the head of department has implemented an investigation that will look into that,” she added.
Simelane-Zulu said her department and the premier’s office had been inundated with calls from people wanting Ivermectin to be used in the treatment of Covid-19.
“The utilisation of any drug in the country is controlled by Sahpra, so, should there be any call for a province to utilise a particular drug, it cannot be made to province.
“It should be a call that goes to national, despite what we as a department feel or the different general practitioners in our province feel about the matter. We do not have the mandate to do anything about it.
“Our investigation is only conducted by us because it happened in our province and we will take it [our findings] up to the minister and Sahpra.”
The health MEC added that discussions between Minister of Health, Zweli Mhkize, and Sahpra were continuing to see if the current ban can be lifted to allow the drug to be used safely.
“As soon as we get the proper guidance at that level we will be able to provide it,” she added.
The ban on Ivermectin has led people to turn to the black market. There are reports that the drug, which usually costs no more than R10 a tablet, is being sold for R2 000 to R3 000.