A private hospital in Durban was raided by the police and the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (Sahpra) on Thursday after a tip-off that the outlawed drug Ivermectin was allegedly being dispensed at the facility.
Sahpra officials and police officers visited the Ahmed Al-Kadi Hospital in Sherwood around midday.
Sahpra spokesperson Yuven Gounden told TimesLIVE: “We had information that they were dispensing Ivermectin. We approached their responsible pharmacist and he said that a doctor or somebody dropped a consignment off and they dispensed, which is very irresponsible.
“They knew ... it's not the right way of doing things. We will be laying a criminal charge against them and will report them to the South African Pharmacy Council.
“The hospital confirmed in a statement that it was visited by Sahpra and police. However, it denied that the drug was found on its premises. We can confirm that about midday today, the hospital was visited by officials from Sahpra and the police to investigate the current controversial drug Ivermectin.
“We can confirm that no such drug was found on the hospital premises.”
The hospital said the matter has been referred to its attorneys.
Ivermectin, which was hailed as a revolutionary drug in the 1980s and works by paralysing and killing parasites including lice and worms in livestock, has been gaining traction as a “miracle cure” for Covid-19 patients.
However, the Sahpra prohibited the drug for human consumption on December 22 after it emerged on several social media platforms that the drug was being promoted on local groups as having “cured” people of Covid-19. It is therefore illegal to dispense the drug.
“Ivermectin is not indicated nor approved for use in humans. There is no confirmatory data on Ivermectin available as yet for its use in the management of Covid-19 infections.
“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,” said Sahpra.
Some experts suggest that in patients who have tested positive for the virus, the drug inhibits viral loads and keeps those with early symptoms from progressing to the hyper-inflammatory phase of the disease, and even helps critically ill patients recover.
Sahpra cited a report on the pharmacokinetics of the drug which found that while Ivermectin is considered generally safe, side-effects include nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, stomach pain, facial or limb swelling, neurologic adverse events (dizziness, seizures, and confusion), a sudden drop in blood pressure, severe skin rashes potentially requiring hospitalisation and liver injury (hepatitis).