Ivermectin returned to worms by drug regulator

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The controversial drug is no longer authorized for use against Covid-19 in South Africa. Photo: Soumyabrata Roy/NurPhoto via Getty Images

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The use of ivermectin to treat Covid has been halted by the drug regulator.

The South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA) announced on Monday that the special waiver granted for the use of ivermectin has been terminated, after a review of the evidence.

SAHPRA states that “there is currently no credible evidence to support a therapeutic role for ivermectin in Covid”. He cites an overabundance of evidence supporting the view that ivermectin is of no clinical use for the prevention or treatment of Covid.

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Last year, ivermectin was at the center of an international storm when it was touted as a magic bullet for the prevention and treatment of Covid.

As GroundUp reported at the time, researchers had found grounds for optimism in a series of studies. At a time when access to vaccines was far from guaranteed, there was an understandable clamor to test many different treatments, even the most unlikely ones.

But the drug, excellent for the treatment of parasitic worms, quickly became politicized.

Afriforum launched a legal campaign to force SAHPRA to approve the use of ivermectin for Covid.

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In January 2021, SAHPRA entered into an agreement with Afriforum. Under the terms of the settlement, ivermectin was made available to anyone who applied to use it under the SAHPRA Article 21 process.

Scientists (writing for GroundUp) criticized the regulation because there was not enough evidence to support its use. On the contrary, over the year, studies have accumulated showing that ivermectin was not a treatment or an effective means of preventing the virus.

Additionally, studies and a meta-analysis that supported the use of ivermectin for the prevention and treatment of Covid (and were cited by its supporters) have been withdrawn, after ethical violations were found and qu fraudulent data has been revealed to be used in key studies.

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As stated in the SAHPRA statement, the hype around ivermectin has died down. Since August 2021, there has been a “marked decrease” in the number of health facilities requesting to hold ivermectin, and there have been no approved individual requests to use ivermectin since December. SAHPRA also noted a lack of reporting of ivermectin treatment outcomes from healthcare providers (which is required under the settlement agreement).

With the end of the program, the import of unregistered ivermectin products will no longer be permitted; and health facilities will not be permitted to hold bulk stocks of unlicensed ivermectin products. Doctors who have prescribed ivermectin for Covid will still need to report to SAHPRA on the results of the treatment.

This article first appeared on GroundUp. Read the original article here.


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