CAPE TOWN — A South African infectious diseases expert on Friday said Ivermectin should be withheld until there was scientific proof of the drug’s efficacy in treating Covid-19.
Pharmaceutical company, Merck, also raised concern, saying there’s “no scientific basis for a potential therapeutic effect against Covid-19 from pre-clinical studies”.
The North Gauteng High Court recently ruled doctors may apply to the Health Products Regulatory Authority to prescribe the anti-parasitic drug — which is not approved for use in humans in South Africa.
Some health professionals tout Ivermectin as a wonder drug, with therapeutic benefits for Covid-19 patients and even suggested the anti-parasitic drug can be taken as prophylaxis.
However, University of Cape Town professor of infectious diseases, Marc Mendelson, disagrees.
“The studies that have been done to date have been extremely small, highly biased and very low confidence in the results that they have produced,” Mendelson said.
“Unfortunately, none of the studies really are good enough to be able to understand whether Ivermectin is a beneficial prophylactic or treatment for Covid-19.”
He said better clinical studies might give more clarity.
“Hopefully in the next weeks to months, better studies, better trials will be undertaken to answer this,” Mendelson added.
“If evidence comes to light that it is of benefit, then that’s wonderful. But at present, the evidence is not there and the potential to cause harm is there as Ivermectin has significant side-effects and adverse effects in people who take it — particularly and potentially at higher doses that are normally used in humans for treating worm infections and skin infections.”
Merck said its analysis had picked up a “concerning lack of safety data in the majority of studies” done on the drug so far.
Zimbabwe last month approved the use of Ivermectin for treatment of Covid-19 amid wrangling among doctors over the drug’s safety and efficacy. — Eyewitness News/Staff Reporter