Health experts continue to warn against the unauthorised use of Ivermectin tablets in the treatment of COVID-19.
The drug has been in high demand since the health products regulator, SAHPRA, allowed its selective use by health practitioners.
Ivermectin is not registered for human use in the country.
“There is huge demand. A lot of people are asking for Ivermectin at pharmacy level but we are not allowed to sell it or stock it at the moment,” says pharmacist, Kobus Botma.
The demand for the drug has now become a sizzling money-making scheme for criminals.
Police in Gauteng seized a consignment of unregistered medicines, suspected to be Ivermectin tablets, with an estimated value of R126 million at the OR Tambo International Airport, in Ekurhuleni, this week.
This followed the confiscation of over 2 000 Ivermectin tablets at the same airport last month from a passenger who’d just arrived from Dubai.
And, because Ivermectin is not registered for use in humans in South Africa , and there is no registered medicine containing it for human use, some are resorting to the internet where the drug has become freely available.
SABC News understands you can buy 10 000 Ivermectin tablets if you desired.
A study has now shown that 80% of the Ivermectin tablets found in South Africa contain at least one undeclared substance.
“We found that four out of the five tablet formulations we had at least one undeclared substance or medication. One of the tablets had seven additional undeclared medications on top of the Ivermectin. The undeclared ingredients these were ranging from Panado to Voltraren, a sedative etc,” says Dr Qasim Bhora from the Soweto Clinical Centre.
“People must remember that when they buy drugs not from a pharmacy or firm, they are not getting Ivermectin. There are potential toxicities too and they wouldn’t know what doses to take,” warns Wits University Emeritus Professor for Critical Care, Guy Richards.
Experts warn against unauthorised use of Ivermectin:
The South African Health Products Council (SAHPRA) has only granted medical practitioners permission for the use of Ivermectin in controlled compassionate circumstances to treat COVID-19.
This while it continues to review the safety and efficacy of the drug to treat and prevent COVID-19.