A court order today which allows medical doctors to start treating patients with Ivermectin without waiting for the medicines regulator’s permission is a breakthrough in its fight against Covid-19, says Afriforum research head Barend Uys.
The order by Pretoria High Court judge Peter Mabuse gives effect to an interim agreement reached between Dr George Coetzee, AfriForum and the SA Health Products Regulatory Authority (Sahpra) that a doctor can start Ivermectin treatment concurrently with the submission of an article 21 application in cases where the doctor deems urgent access to the drug is crucial for a patient.
The legal challenge was launched as an urgent application last week with the goal of legalising the use of Ivermectin in the treatment of Covid-19 patients and for doctors to have the right to prescribe the drug at their discretion.
Sahpra has been hesitant to allow the use of Ivermectin for Covid treatment, arguing that further clinical studies are needed to determine whether the parasitic drug can be used for that purpose.
Last Wednesday, following a groundswell of protest from SA citizens, Sahpra CEO Dr Boitumelo Semete-Makokotlela, announced they would facilitate “controlled, compassionate access” to Ivermectin while results of clinical studies on the treatment of Covid-19 patients are awaited.
In its guidelines on compassionate access to Ivermectin Sahpra specified that doctors who want to prescribe Ivermectin to patients must submit a Section 21 application to the regulator and await the outcome of their request.
Today’s court order which allows doctors to use their own judgment in treating patients with Ivermectin “is an important first step in our effort to ensure access to ivermectin,” said Uys.
The court order also determines that any person can qualify for access to Ivermectin and medical practitioners are entitled to apply for access to Ivermectin.
However, the part of the original application which involves the right of doctors and pharmacists to compose medicine, according to article 14(4) of the act, has been postponed and will be placed on the normal court roll to be heard on a future date.
That application will be heard simultaneously with an application launched by the ACDP against the regulatory authority.
Last week the ACDP, joined by Doctors For Life International, launched an urgent application in the Pretoria High Court seeking the right for registered medical doctors to prescribe Ivermectin for Covid-19 treatment.
The announcement by Sahpra on the same day as the ACDP’s urgent application, that it would allow controlled, compassionate use of Ivermectin, forced the CDP to postpone its urgent application in order to give the programme a chance to demonstrate itself, says the party in a media statement released today.
It says the programme is “onerous, restrictive and unworkable”.
“It is crucial to save lives, and the ACDP will continue to hold Sahpra and the Minister of Health accountable to the scientific evidence. The ACDP expects to be back in court in the week of 22 February 2021,” says the statement.
ACDP NEC member Bongani Khayile-Luthuli, told Gateway News today that while today’s interim order giving doctors discretion in prescribing Ivermectin is welcome, they intend to fight in court for the order to be made permanent.