Tamar Kahn’s report on the use of ivermectin for Covid-19 patients omits an important consideration that should be applied by clinicians grappling with the health-care crisis sweeping the world (“Using ivermectin for Covid-19 is risky and unethical, say government advisers”, January 11).
In 1964 the World Medical Association adopted the Helsinki Declaration after careful debate and deliberation. Its principle 37, taken from the current (2013) revised version, reads:
“Unproven interventions in clinical practice
- In the treatment of an individual patient, where proven interventions do not exist or other known interventions have been ineffective, the physician, after seeking expert advice, with informed consent from the patient or a legally authorised representative, may use an unproven intervention if in the physician’s judgment it offers hope of saving life, re-establishing health, or alleviating suffering. This intervention should subsequently be made the object of research, designed to evaluate its safety and efficacy. In all cases, new information must be recorded and, where appropriate, made publicly available.”
No Covid-19 vaccine is available in SA and no vaccine exists in the world with a proven track record beyond clinical trials. There have been horror stories of deaths after taking certain vaccines.
SA clinicians have an ethical duty to consider ivermectin for their patients suffering from Covid-19. The SA Health Products Regulatory Authority (Sahpra), which is struggling with an unenviable backlog of work, has no business thwarting ethical medical conduct. To do so amounts to maladministration of its regulatory mandate and is detrimental to the recovery prospects of patients infected by the virus who are willing and able to give informed consent to orally taking this cheap and readily available drug, which was invented in 1975 and has been in use on humans and animals since 1981.
Sahpra has been asked to straighten up and fly right. If it does not, diligently and without delay, it behoves the office of the public protector to investigate the suspicion of improper conduct on the part of Sahpra and swiftly take appropriate remedial action that ensures the availability of ivermectin to those who are minded to offer it to their duly informed and consenting patients. Heaven forbid that crass commercial considerations or idiotic ideological dogma, or both, are informing the resistance to the use of ivermectin for Covid-19 patients.
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