Use of ivermectin for Covid-19 discouraged until efficacy is proven
By Jonisayi Maromo 32m ago
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PRETORIA – There is insufficient evidence to recommend ivermectin for the treatment or prevention of Covid-19, research by the Covid-19 subcommittee of the National Essential Medicines List Committee (NEMLC) into the efficacy of the drug has found.
On Thursday, National Department of Health spokesperson Popo Maja said the ministerial-appointed NEMLC, which is responsible for the development of an essential medicines list (EML), had carefully considered all the evidence at hand on the use of ivermectin as a prophylaxis and treatment for Covid-19.
“Currently, there is insufficient evidence to recommend ivermectin for the treatment or prevention of Covid-19,” said Maja.
“Some studies have suggested that ivermectin may be of benefit of management of Covid-19; however, the evidence that is currently available is preliminary and of low quality.”
Maja said the studies varied widely in terms of disease severity of participants, medicines with which ivermectin was compared and additional medicines that participants received.
“Several studies are currently under way, exploring efficacy and safety of ivermectin in the management of Covid-19. The outcomes of these studies will provide the department with more scientific data to make informed decisions on the usage of ivermectin to manage the pandemic,” said Maja.
“As new data becomes available, the subcommittee will continuously review and amend the recommendations accordingly.”
In the meantime, the department said it “discourages the use of ivermectin outside of well-conducted randomised controlled trials”.
“The subcommittee remains committed to an evidence-based approach to the selection of safe and effective medicines for management of Covid-19,” said Maja.
The NEMLC subcommittee is tasked with providing specific patient-focused evidence-based recommendations to support therapeutic and preventive therapies for Covid-19, as well as supportive agents for the management of comorbid diseases.
Earlier this week, the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (Sahpra) announced it would allow a controlled compassionate use of ivermectin to treat Covid-19.
The announcement was made during a press announcement in collaboration with the National Press Club on Wednesday.
“We at Sahpra have considered all of this, and the approach that we will be taking going forward is that we will facilitate a controlled, compassionate access programme for ivermectin.
“This does not mean that our position changes around the lack of availability of scientific data, but we had to as a regulator have very in-depth discussions around the context which we find ourselves in with the pandemic with limited options,” said Sahpra chief executive Dr Boitumelo Semete-Makokotlela.
She said the Sahpra hoped controlled access would enable them to ensure that the product was used properly and limit the black market for ivermectin.