R126m worth of ivermectin seized at OR Tambo in biggest medicines bust of the year

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Police have made a drug bust at OR Tambo International Airport.
Police have made a drug bust at OR Tambo International Airport.
SAPS
  • Police have seized R126 million worth of unregistered medicines at OR Tambo International Airport.
  • The bust is the largest involving unregistered medicines since the beginning of the year, according to police.
  • The medication, identified as ivermectin, was imported for the treatment of Covid-19, according to initial investigations.


Police have seized medicines worth R126 million at OR Tambo International Airport.

The medication, identified as ivermectin, was imported for the treatment of Covid-19, according to initial investigations.

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

The bust is the largest one involving the alleged illegal importation of medicines since the beginning of the year, said police spokesperson Colonel Athlenda Mathe.

Mathe described it as a "major breakthrough in clamping down the illegal importation of unregistered medicines".

"The discovery of the tablets was made earlier this week by authorities during an inspection of a cargo container that was destined to South Africa from India. Upon a compliance verification of the unregistered medicines by the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (Sahpra), authorities found that the company that had imported the medicines into the country, had done so without the necessary written approval and authorisation from the regulatory authority," said Mathe.

Police have seized R126 million worth of unregiste
Police have seized R126 million worth of unregistered medicines at OR Tambo International Airport.
Police have seized R126 million worth of unregiste
Police have seized R126 million worth of unregistered medicines at OR Tambo International Airport.

No arrests have been made, but the police are working with Interpol and authorities from India to establish the delivery address of the consignment.

Preliminary investigations revealed that the unregistered medicines had been imported for sale purposes and would have been used to treat Covid-19, said Mathe.

"The South African Police Service therefore draws the attention of pharmaceutical companies, including health experts to Section 22(c) of the Medicines Act which clearly states that anyone who wishes to import medicines into the country must have written authority from Sahpra. It should be further noted that those who do not comply with the act will be apprehended and brought before a court of law to answer to illegal dealing and/or importation of unregistered medicines."

In January, seven people were arrested for the illegal importation of unregistered medicine, mostly ivermectin. One person was arrested at King Shaka International Airport while six others were arrested at OR Tambo International Airport. All seven accused are out on bail.

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