Zimbabwean company cashes in on Ivermectin

Ivermectin lobby groups have welcomed the regulator’s decision to allow compassionate controlled access to the drug as a step in the right direction but have raised concern that it does not go far enough to make the drug easily accessible2020. (Photo by Luis ROBAYO / AFP)

THE growing interest in the use of Ivermectin to treat and prevent COVID-19 has opened floodgates, with some individuals and companies now advertising the sale of the drug without approval from the Medicines Control Authority of Zimbabwe (MCAZ).

Following a cautionary approval by the regulatory body, which, however, clearly stated that there had been no conclusive evidence yet to support its use, there has been a flurry of activities around the drug.

In a statement released last week, MCAZ said it had not approved widespread use of the drug since several clinical studies were still being undertaken to evaluate its effectiveness.

MCAZ also said there were conditions to be met based on the established framework which provides guidance on the use of Ivermectin in COVID-19 in the form of operational research.

The authority clarified that only authorised pharmaceutical wholesale dealers would be allowed to import and supply Ivermectin to authorised institutions.

However, some institutions, in direct contravention of this condition, have already started advertising the drug which is supposed to be used in combination with two other drugs.

One such is a company going by the name Live Well, which has now been caught in the eye of the storm after advertising before getting a license from MCAZ.

In a flier circulating on social media platforms, Live Well advertised a triple combo pack dubbed Ziverdo going for US$10, which consists of Ivermectin 12mg to be taken once a day for three

The other drug in the combo is Doxycycline, to be taken twice a day and Zinc acetate, (once a day for 14 days).

Prospective patients are advised that the medication, which is ingested, orally should be taken in consultation with a physician or medical consultant.

The flier also had a World Health Organization (WHO) logo, which, however, is on record saying the current evidence on the use of Ivermectin to treat COVID-19 patients is inconclusive.

Until more data is available, WHO has recommended that the drug only be used within clinical trials.

When NewsDay Weekender called one of the numbers listed on the flier, a woman who picked the phone became vague when asked about the combo.

“We are still waiting for a licence and once we have it, we will let you know,” she said hesitantly.

MCAZ public relations officer Shingai Gwatidzo said they had already paid a visit to the company.

“We are on top of the situation and when we visited them this morning (Friday), we established that they are not in possession of the drug yet and were not selling the drug,” he said.

Gwatidzo, however, conceded that the company had erred in advertising before getting a licence, but could not disclose what action the regulatory authority would take.

The use of Ivermectin has created a lot of controversy in many countries, with proponents like Australian gastroenterologist Thomas Borody claiming that Zimbabwe could achieve a COVID-19-free status by adopting the triple combo of Ivermectin, Zinc and Doxycycline.

“The combination has the potential to be a cure for COVID-19,” he said recently.

Source – newsday