The civil rights organisation AfriForum brought an urgent court application against the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA) and Dr Zweli Mkhize, Minister of Health, to ensure that ivermectin developed for human consumption is available to doctors who want to prescribe it to treat COVID-19. SAHPRA has until now failed to approve applications by doctors – which were brought in terms of Section 21 of the Medicines and Related Substances Act – to have ivermectin approved for the treatment of COVID-19 patients.
It is requested in the court application (among others) that:
- The failure of SAHPRA to approve the Section 21 applications be reviewed and set aside and that the court approves the Section 21 applications;
- A declaratory order that Ivermectin is a safe drug for the use of humans, subject to it being properly administered in a controlled manner under the management of a treating medical practitioner; and
- A declaratory order that qualified medical doctors and pharmacists are entitled in terms of Section 14(4) of the Medicines Act to compound medicine, on the prescription of a medical practitioner, which includes Ivermectin.
“We find ourselves in extraordinary circumstances. People die every day and healthcare practitioners are inundated. Everyday costs more lives. Under such circumstances the potential risks and benefits of a decision should be weighed with urgency, and actions should be decisive. Ivermectin is listed by the World Health Organization as an essential medicine, and it has been proven safe – also in children. Studies undertaken in among others the US, Argentina, India, Egypt and Spain all show that ivermectin has the potential to treat COVID-19 and reduce deaths. The balance between risk and benefit is evident; this is why we are taking these steps to ensure its availability,” says Barend Uys, AfriForum’s Head of Research.
“Farmers are currently the largest consumers of veterinary medicine that contains ivermectin. More and more people are using these products, however, which causes challenges to farmers in terms of availability and affordability. Saai has a direct interest in the welfare of family farmers, their families and their workers. We are supporting the effort to urgently ensure the availability of ivermectin that is fit for human consumption,” says Dr Theo de Jager, Chairperson of the Board of Saai.