ALGIERS, 31 March 2021 – Algeria’s health ministry has warned against using the anti-parasitic drug Ivermectin to treat COVID-19.

Ivermectin poses a “danger to human health”, the independent daily newspaper El Khabar reported Tuesday, citing a letter from Algerian health officials.

Tackling the COVID-19 Pandemic - Photo Bloomberg

Tackling the COVID-19 Pandemic – Photo Bloomberg

Algeria - Source Britannica

Algeria – Source Britannica

The letter warns that the drug is circulating on the black market in Algeria, warning any users “of the dangers arising from the use of this medication” in humans.

The drug is licensed to treat parasitic worms, but some have touted it as an effective coronavirus treatment.

Some doctors in South Africa have said they have resorted to using it although it is not clinically proven to treat COVID-19 and, along with advocates, are seeking its emergency use authorization.

Hydroxychloroquine, One of the Drugs Touted as Effective in Treating COVID-19 - Photo Gabriela Bhaskar, The New York Times

Hydroxychloroquine, One of the Drugs Touted as Effective in Treating COVID-19 – Photo Gabriela Bhaskar, The New York Times

People were dying and doctors were looking at many treatment options to try and save lives, one South African doctor told reporters about the desperate circumstances under which the drug has been used in patients facing death.

“Ivermectin was one of the drugs doctors repurposed,” the South African doctor, who is campaigning for the drug getting licensed told reporters last week.

South Africa’s medical regulator, the drug’s manufacturer, and some of the country’s most eminent scientists have all warned against using it to treat coronavirus.

As demand for the drug has skyrocketed in South Africa, its price has soared 15-fold from about four U.S. dollars per pack of ten pills to $60 for the same pack.

Campaigners for Emergency Use Authorization for Ivermectin - Photo BBC

Campaigners for Emergency Use Authorization for Ivermectin – Photo BBC

Advocacy groups who want to see the drug licensed for use in humans and medical professionals who are both opposed or supportive of its use in humans are scheduled to make their case before the High Court in Gauteng where an emergency hearing is expected soon.

Last December, South Africa’s drug regulator, SAHPRA, prohibited its use on humans, urging doctors to get approval through a special “compassionate use” application that allows an unauthorized drug to be prescribed in dire situations.

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