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The use of Ivermectin for treating COVID-19 has been a contentious topic for several months. However, this is now set to change, following a settlement agreement for the compounding of and access to Ivermectin between the SA Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAPHRA) and various parties fighting for the use of the drug.
During a virtual sitting on Tuesday, 6 April 2021, the Pretoria High Court ruled a registered pharmacist, or a medical practitioner, might compound and sell compounded medicine that contained the drug as an active ingredient. The order explains that registered medical practitioners who are entitled to prescribe medication in schedule 3 of the Act may prescribe Ivermectin at their professional discretion.
Additionally, the order further governs that SAHPRA must report back to the court every three months about the state of affairs relating to Ivermectin.
Responding to the court order, the civil rights organisation, AfriForum highlighted, “The order further determines that SAHPRA and the Minister of Health, jointly and severally, will pay a total contribution to the costs of the four applicant groups in the amount of R1,8 million (plus VAT).”
Furthermore, they explain that because the medicine containing Ivermectin as an active ingredient is now registered and Ivermectin is listed as a schedule 3 substance, the drug can now be used for other purposes than stated on the label of the registered medicine (off-label use) – which includes the treatment of COVID-19.
Head of Research at AfriForum, Baren Uys elaborates further, “Access in accordance with Section 14(4) of the Act practically means that doctors can prescribe Ivermectin on their own judgement and that no Section 21 application or reporting is required for compounded Ivermectin. Patients can then use this prescription to buy Ivermectin from any pharmacy where compounded Ivermectin is available.”
Dr George Coetzee, a Pretoria East Doctor who took part in the legal battle, states, “We are very glad that the settlement was made an order of the court as this provides certainty for doctors and patients.”
Concluding, AfriForum says, “We also want to acknowledge the contribution of our excellent legal team, Dr George Coetzee and other stakeholders like the Pharma Valu pharmacy group, the I Can Make a Difference doctors group and the ACDP that worked with dedication to ensure accessibility to ivermectin for citizens.”
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