'No meaningful evidence for clinical efficacy in patients with Covid-19' - ivermectin manufacturer

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 A general view of the drug Ivermectin.
A general view of the drug Ivermectin.
(Photo by Gallo Images/Ziyaad Douglas)
  • The original manufacturer of ivermectin, Merck, has said there is not enough evidence to support its use in treating Covid-19 patients.
  • The company said it had found "no scientific basis" for its use against Covid-19 after studying various findings of emerging studies.
  • Ivermectin is allowed to be used in South Africa only with application to the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority.

Merck, the original manufacturer of ivermectin, has said there is not enough data available to support the use of the medication for Covid-19 patients.

Known as MSD outside America and Canada, the company said its scientists continue to carefully examine the findings of all available and emerging studies of ivermectin for the treatment of Covid-19 for evidence of efficacy and safety.

READ | Ivermectin for use in urgent Covid-19 cases allowed before Section 21 applications are approved

However, the company's scientists have found "no scientific basis for a potential therapeutic effect against Covid-19 from pre-clinical studies" and "no meaningful evidence for clinical activity or clinical efficacy in patients with Covid-19 disease".

"We do not believe that the data available support the safety and efficacy of ivermectin beyond the doses and populations indicated in the regulatory agency-approved prescribing information," the company said in a statement released on Thursday.

Ivermectin, a parasiticide, has been getting attention as a possible Covid-19 treatment, Health24 reported.

The South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (Sahpra) initially announced it will allow for the use of the drug in exceptional circumstances, in a controlled, compassionate access programme through the use of a Section 21 application. In terms of the Medicines and Related Substances Control Act, a Section 21 application is the process used to apply for the prescription of medicine not registered for human use in South Africa.

Sahpra has been hesitant to allow the use of ivermectin for the treatment of Covid-19, saying there was not enough clinical evidence to support its use.

However, an interim settlement was reached in the Gauteng High Court on Tuesday between Sahpra, AfriForum and others to allow doctors, in cases deemed urgent, to start ivermectin treatment as soon as a Section 21 application has been submitted, without having to wait for the outcome of the application.

According to the World Health Organisation, Merck's patent for ivermectin expired in 1996, allowing other companies to produce ivermectin thereafter.

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