A private hospital in Durban is under police investigation after allegations the outlawed drug Ivermectin was dispensed at the facility.
Police and the SA Health Products Regulatory Authority (Sahpra) raided the Ahmed Al-Kadi Hospital after receiving a tip-off last Thursday.
After the raid, the hospital denied in a statement that Ivermectin was found at the facility and said the matter was being handled by its legal team.
Police spokesperson Brig Jay Naicker said: “A case of contravention of the Medicines and Related Substances Act is being investigated by Mayville police after allegations of illegal selling or dispensing of medicine at a hospital was received from Sahpra. The matter is still under investigation.
“Once the investigation has been completed, the docket will be forwarded to the senior public prosecutor for a decision,” said Naicker.
Ivermectin, which was hailed as a revolutionary drug in the 1980s and works by paralysing and killing parasites in livestock, has been gaining traction as a “miracle cure” for Covid-19 patients.
However, Sahpra prohibited the drug for human consumption on December 22 last year after it emerged on several social media platforms it was being promoted on local groups as having “cured” people of Covid-19. It is therefore illegal to dispense the drug.
Some experts suggest that in patients who have tested positive for the coronavirus, the drug inhibits viral loads and keeps those with early Covid-19 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).
Co-chair of the ministerial advisory committee Prof Salim Abdool Karim said in an interview with eNCA he did not support the use of Ivermectin at this time.
“There are several trials under way, some of them well conducted, so we’ll wait to get those results. Until then, Ivermectin available in the country is for animal use only.”
According to the ministerial advisory committee report dated January 7, there is “insufficient evidence at this stage to support the routine use of Ivermectin for either the prevention or treatment of Covid-19”.