A Pretoria high court order on Tuesday allows doctors to start ivermectin treatment concurrently with the submission of an application to the SA Health Products Regulatory Authority (Sahpra) for the use of the drug.
The agreement reached between by Dr George Coetzee, AfriForum and Sahpra was made an order of court by judge Peter Mabuse on Tuesday.
The order means doctors can start ivermectin treatment concurrently with the submission of an article 21 application in cases where the doctor deems urgent access to ivermectin as crucial for a patient.
In terms of the Medicines and Related Substances Control Act, an article 21 application has to be submitted to Sahpra by medical practitioners who want to prescribe medicine which is not registered for human use within the country.
AfriForum said the court order was a breakthrough because doctors will not have to wait for approval of an article 21 application before starting treatment.
The organisation said it was also a huge victory as doctors can decide to proceed with treatment using their own judgment.
Barend Uys, head of research at AfriForum, said quick access to medical treatment was a breakthrough for health-care freedom and the battle against Covid-19 as the hurdle of pre-authorisation was no longer an issue.
“It is an important first step in our effort to ensure access to ivermectin,” he said.
The court order also determines that any person can qualify for access to ivermectin and medical practitioners are entitled to apply for access to ivermectin.
“I am thankful for the assurance the court order gives that doctors can use their clinical judgment to commence ivermectin treatment when access to it is urgent,” Coetzee said.
However, the part of the original application which involves the right of doctors and pharmacists to compose medicine, according to article 14(4) of the act, has been postponed and will be placed on the normal court roll to be heard on a future date.
That application will be heard simultaneously with an application launched by the African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP) against the regulatory authority.
The court allowed Coetzee, AfriForum, the ACDP and the regulatory authority to approach the deputy judge president to obtain a special date for the matters to be heard simultaneously.