SA’s medicines regulator, SAHPRA, has decided to allow doctors to prescribe ivermectin for coronavirus patients under a tightly controlled “compassionate use” programme, while it waits for stronger evidence to emerge from clinical trials, reported Busines Day (28 January 2021).

Ivermectin is a cheap, off-patent, anti-parasitic drug that has not been registered for human use in SA. It is being touted on social media as a “miracle cure” resulting in a growing black-market trade.

Doctors will have to apply to the regulator to prescribe ivermectin to their patients and will be required to provide detailed data on how their patients fared so the regulator can monitor safety and efficacy.

A recent review of 18 studies on ivermectin and COVID-19 by the University of Liverpool’s Andrew Hill found the drug is associated with reduced inflammation and faster elimination of the coronavirus.

Three research groups are finalising clinical trial protocols for local studies on the use of ivermectin for COVID-19 patients.

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