SA police have said they seized R126m worth of unregistered medication, believed to be ivermectin, which, in January, regulators cleared  to treat coronavirus patients in a controlled-access programme.

The tablets were discovered in a cargo container that arrived at the OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg from India, and were imported without the necessary approval, the police said in a statement on Friday.

The police are working with Interpol and the Indian authorities to establish the source of the consignment and haven’t made any arrests so far.

Ivermectin has been used for decades to treat livestock infested with parasitic worms, while in humans it’s used as a topical ointment for diseases, skin infections and inflammation.

The World Health Organization has suggested the drug has encouraging effects on Covid-19, though, like other regulators it’s also said the medication hasn’t been properly evaluated.


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