Ivermectin drug busts increase after it was cleared to treat COVID-19 symptoms

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Police say R6 million worth of the drug Ivermectin has been seized at OR Tambo International Airport over the past two weeks.

The drug has been cleared by the Health Products Regulatory Authority for use in controlled, compassionate circumstances to treat the virus.

Earlier, this month a man, believed to be a Pakistan national was arrested at the King Shaka International Airport in Durban for being in possession of over 2 000 Ivermectin tablets.

“Three people were arrested on Thursday and all three were found to be in possession of Ivermectin with a market value of R5 million. In the first case that was reported on the 13th of January, the team pounced on a man found to be in possession of a little over 24 000 Ivermectin tablets with a market value of R720 000 and in another incident, on Tuesday the 26th, two men were arrested after they were found to be in possession of a variety of unregistered medicines, Ivermectin tablets and antibiotics that are believed to be treating COVID-19” says Police Spokesperson, Athlenda Mathe.

SAHPRA approves use of Ivermectin to treat COVID-19

The South African Health Products Council (SAHPRA) recently announced that it will allow the use of Ivermectin in controlled compassionate circumstances to treat COVID-19.

SAHPRA said it will facilitate an access programme for the drug, known to be used in the treatment of parasites in animals. The council is expected to announce guidelines in the next few days.

Ivermectin is not authorised for human use in South Africa, but some medical practitioners have been calling for it to be used for the treatment of COVID-19.

SAHPRA’s Dr. Boitumelo Semete-Makokotlela says there is still a lack of scientific proof on Ivermectin, but that the regulator is on track in assessing its safety.

“So, colleagues what you will note is that as a regulator we are saying we have heard you. We are putting in this compassionate access programme that will be controlled. We will communicate in the next day or so with very clear guidelines in terms of what is controlled going to look like and again, we’ve considered the risk-benefit of having this product available.”

Some medical practitioners want the drug approved to treat COVID-19:

INFOGRAPHIC: Facts about Ivermectin