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SA’s medicines regulator has advised doctors to stop prescribing ivermectin for Covid-19 and scrapped a controversial programme that permitted doctors and hospitals to import the unregistered medicine from countries that had approved it.

Ivermectin is an antiparasitic drug that has been widely touted as a Covid-19 treatment since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, despite limited evidence of its safety and efficacy. Faced with its widespread and growing illicit use, the SA Health Products Regulatory Authority (Sahpra) introduced a “compassionate access” programme for ivermectin in January 2021. It hoped this would give it greater oversight of its use: in addition to obtaining permission to import the drug, doctors and hospitals were required to report back to the regulator on how their patients fared...

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