- Almost 2 500 Ivermectin tablets have allegedly been found in a traveller's hand luggage.
- The drug has been thrust into the spotlight because some people claim it helps to manage Covid-19 symptoms.
- The South African Health Products Regulatory Authority says current evidence to support the use of the drug is "poor".
A 43-year-old man was arrested at King Shaka International Airport in Durban on Tuesday in alleged possession of Ivermectin parasiticide tablets valued at R100 000.
He was returning from Dubai when 2 464 tablets were found in his hand luggage.
"The man has already appeared before the Verulam Magistrate's Court where he has been charged with being in possession of unregistered medicines and the importation of medicines without a valid permit," said police spokesperson Colonel Athlenda Mathe.
According to the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (Sahpra), the drug is used for the treatment of parasites in animals and several tropical diseases in humans that are not commonly seen in South Africa. Research in some countries has suggested that the drug can be used to manage Covid-19 symptoms.
In South Africa, it is registered under the Department of Agriculture for use in animals. As such, it is illegal for people who do not have permits or are not trained to use it, to have it in their possession.
"Ivermectin is not indicated nor approved by Sahpra for use in humans. 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," Sahpra said in a recent statement.
On Wednesday, the authority said "there have been no positive recommendations for the use of Ivermectin in the management of Covid-19 infections by any regulatory authority with which the Sahpra has reliance agreements".
It added that the World Health Organisation did not recommend the use of the drug for the treatment or prophylaxis of Covid-19 infections.
The man will apply for bail on Friday.
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