Why uncontrolled use of drugs like ivermectin for Covid-19 can hinder clinical trials

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Ivermectin, an anti-parasite drug, first gained recognition for its potential as a Covid-19 treatment in April 2020, when researchers in Australia found that high doses of the compound could stop the virus from replicating in cells.

Since then, additional promising results have surfaced in a number of studies that have assessed its efficacy as a Covid-19 treatment, although experts have cautioned that these results are not yet conclusive.

In South Africa, the drug is not authorised for human use, although a number of healthcare workers and members of the public have been advocating for its use as a preventative and treatment for Covid-19. The South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA) therefore recently agreed to its use on compassionate grounds via a controlled-access programme, saying that it will help the regulator monitor its use and enable them to collect much-needed safety data.

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