The Pharmaceutical Society of SA (PSSA) believes the Gauteng High Court ruling to allow doctors to use ivermectin to treat Covid-19 patients was influenced by social media. File Picture.
The Pharmaceutical Society of SA (PSSA) believes the Gauteng High Court ruling to allow doctors to use ivermectin to treat Covid-19 patients was influenced by social media. File Picture.

Social media pressure blamed for court ruling on the use of Ivermectin to treat Covid-19

By Manyane Manyane Time of article published Feb 7, 2021

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Johannesburg - The Pharmaceutical Society of SA (PSSA) believes the Gauteng High Court ruling to allow doctors to use ivermectin to treat Covid-19 patients was influenced by social media.

The organisation’s manager Ivan Kotze said the court verdict showed the power of social media because people used the platform to call on SA Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA) to approve the drug.

On Tuesday, the high court issued an order by agreement with the SAHPRA, to allow doctors to start ivermectin treatment.

This gave doctors the nod to 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.

SAHPRA previously said ivermectin was not indicated nor approved for use in humans. It said there was no confirmatory data on ivermectin available as yet for its use in the management of Covid-19 infections. In terms of safety and efficiency, there was no evidence to support the use of ivermectin.

Kotze said he supported the decision by SAHPRA.

“The ivermectin studies that were used by the doctors were not real studies and we can’t rely on them to be effective. These studies need to be scientifically proven. Remember the pharmacies are businesses and they want to make profit,” Kotze cautioned.

“If anything goes wrong the public should launch complaints against those health professionals.”

SA Medical Association (Sama) spokesperson Dr Mvuyisi Mzukwa said they were not sure what the clinical impact of ivermectin would be.

“The evidence for the effectiveness and adverse effects of ivermectin in patients severely ill with Covid-19 is still very unclear, and larger potentially more convincing trials have yet to be completed.

“SAHPRA had recommended that doctors wait until the evidence is better before recommending this to patients. Now it is allowing access while trying to gather better evidence of effects and side effects in patients,” said Mzukwa.

Department of Health and SAHPRA spokespeople Popo Maja and Yuven Gounden did not respond to questions sent by the Sunday Independent on Wednesday.

However, on Wednesday SAHPRA released a statement refuting claims that the regulator had “buckled under pressure” as a consequence of the court action brought by, among others the AfriForum regarding access to ivermectin.

SAHPRA said this was not the case. “The court deliberations of February 2, 2021 culminated in an order that reiterates the position that SAHPRA communicated on 27 January 2021. In other words, SAHPRA’s programme of controlled compassionate use of Ivermectin remains firmly in place, said CEO Boitumelo Semete-Makokotlela.

“The culmination of the many engagements was the decision to implement the Programme. This move was announced at the media briefing held on 27 January 2021. SAHPRA’s timing and the action brought on by Afriforum is a mere coincidence,” said Semete-Makokotlela.

However, the Independent Community Pharmacy Association of SA (ICPA) spokesperson Jackie Maimin welcomed the ruling in favour of allowing the use of ivermectin.

“The programme also allows health establishments such as hospitals and pharmacies to hold bulk stock of ivermectin for emergency use.

Doctors and patients using ivermectin sourced under a section 21 can take comfort that the medicine is a registered medicine manufactured by a reputable company under strict quality-controlled conditions and that the medicine was manufactured for human consumption.

The Sunday Independent

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