Johannesburg – A suspect is expected to apply for bail in the Verulam Magistrates Court on Friday after he was arrested for illegal possession of Ivermectin, an animal drug not confirmed for COVID-19 infection management.
The 43-year-old man was arrested at King Shaka International Airport after he was found with 2 464 tablets in his hand luggage when he arrived at the airport this week.
The tablets are valued at R100 000.
In a statement, Police spokesperson Athlenda Mathe said the suspect had just arrived in the country from Dubai.
“The SAPS can confirm that the said medicine is not registered with the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA),” she said.
According to SAHPRA, Ivermectin is not indicated nor approved for use in humans. Furthermore, there is no confirmatory data on Ivermectin available as yet, for its use in the management of COVID-19 infections.
Mathe said the man has already appeared before the Verulam Magistrates Court where he has been charged with being in possession of unregistered medicines and the importation of medicines without a valid permit.
The case has been postponed to Friday for a formal bail application.
On Tuesday, the SAHPRA said Ivermectin is a drug that paralyses and kills parasites including lice and worms in livestock.
“Ivermectin is a widely used drug for the treatment and control of parasites in animals and is used to treat several tropical diseases in humans not commonly seen in South Africa, as well as scabies and head lice. Ivermectin is a synthetic derivative of the antiparasitic class of compounds known as avermectins,” said the SAHPRA in a statement.
The authority said several investigators have reported that when tested in the laboratory, Ivermectin inhibits replication of the severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2).
“Given the current Coronavirus disease-19 (COVID-19) pandemic, this has understandably received a lot of media attention. Thus, several clinical studies have been undertaken to evaluate Ivermectin’s efficacy in treating the COVID-19 infection.”
In December, SAHPRA indicated that in relation to Ivermectin use for COVID-19, that “Ivermectin is not indicated nor approved by SAHPRA for use in humans”.
This, said the authority, was because “there is no confirmatory data on Ivermectin available as yet for its use in the management of COVID-19 infections. In terms of safety and efficacy there is no evidence to support the use of ivermectin and we do not have any clinical trial evidence to justify its use.”
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