Man arrested at Durban airport for trying to smuggle Ivermectin tablets

07 January 2021 - 12:04
By suthentira govender AND Suthentira Govender
King Shaka International Airport
Image: Antonio Muchave King Shaka International Airport

The police nabbed a 40-year-old Pakistani businessman at King Shaka International Airport in Durban on Wednesday after he was allegedly found in possession of 2,300 Ivermectin tablets.

The SA Health Products Regulatory Authority (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. ​

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.

There have been growing calls by some scientists, politicians and advocacy groups for the anti-parasitic drug to be studied and considered for human consumption in SA.

Sahpra spokesperson Yuven Gounden confirmed the man had 2,300 Ivermectin tablets in his possession, as well 320 tablets to treat high blood pressure.

He told the SABC that the drugs are understood to have an estimated street value of R60,000 and were found in the man's luggage.

“These substances are not registered in SA and are therefore deemed illegal.

“He was therefore arrested and investigations are continuing,” said Gounden.

Amid growing calls for the use of Ivermectin to be approved for human consumption, Sahpra issued a statement saying it did not receive applications either for clinical trials or for the registration of Ivermectin for “the treatment or prophylaxis for Covid-19”.

“However, Sahpra encourages and supports all well-designed, ethically approved scientific studies designed to identify new or existing medicines that are used for the treatment or prophylaxis of Covid-19.”

The regulatory body said it was committed to expediting the review of such studies.

“Saphra will also consider enabling access to approved formulations of Ivermectin for human use, including through section 21 authorisation, provided such a request is supported by evidence for the indication requested and is justified based on risk benefit assessment that includes safety and clinical efficacy data.”