Live COVID-19 update
Profmed supports our government’s actions to stem the tide of COVID-19 and will continue to make the health and safety of our employees and members our priority. We understand that the members of our community are anxious during this period, and we will do our best to be supportive in every aspect. We have the necessary technology and infrastructure for the business to continue as usual, and commit to maintaining our excellent service to you.
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Latest COVID-19 Content
Ivermectin is a medication used to treat many types of parasitic infestations. In humans, this includes head lice and scabies. In veterinary medicine, it is used to prevent and treat heartworm and acariasis (mites), among other indications.
In vitro, Ivermectin has been found to have antiviral effects against several viruses, including SARS-CoV-2. It is for this reason that Ivermectin has been repurposed in many countries around the world, in the hope of helping to manage patients with COVID-19.
Ivermectin is not registered for use in COVID-19 treatment and prevention in South Africa. In an effort to provide access to this medicine and to curb uncontrolled use of Ivermectin, the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA) has granted conditional access to Ivermectin through Section 21 of the Medicines and Related Substances Act.
Section 21 of the Medicines and Related Substances Act, 1965 (Act 101 of 1965) makes provision for access to treatment which is not registered and available in South Africa. The Section 21 process allows authority to be granted by SAHPRA to a specific person or institution to gain access to a specific treatment for a defined period of time.
Available data to date show a trend towards some benefit in the management of COVID-19. National and international data reviews have concluded that there is unclear evidence of either benefit or harm in the treatment and prevention of COVID-19.
The South African National Department of Health (DoH) recently did an evidence summary regarding the use of Ivermectin in managing COVID patients, as well as for prevention of the disease. Both reviews revealed that there is limited evidence to support the use of Ivermectin in both treatment and prevention of COVID-19. It has been advised that use of this drug be made in the clinical trial setting.
Profmed funds medication that is registered in South Africa and is based on good clinical evidence. As Ivermectin is currently not registered in South Africa for the general treatment and prevention of COVID-19, Profmed does not fund this medication. We will, however, ensure that this decision is revisited as evidence for the treatment evolves and in line with guidance from the DoH as well as the SAHPRA.
Medical practitioners who deem a patient to require medical intervention with Ivermectin may request authorisation from SAHPRA, with a full clinical motivation explaining the need for the treatment. In cases requiring urgent administration of treatment, SAHPRA makes provision in their process for application and administration simultaneously. Clarity regarding specific clinical criteria to be applied for access to Ivermectin via the Section 21 process are still to be finalised and published.
More clarity is required around the intended and specific indications for the use of Ivermectin in the South African setting. Guidance will be required from SAHPRA, the DoH as well as the practicing medical fraternity and consensus will need to be reached in this regard.