The Medicines Control Authority of Zimbabwe (MCAZ) has granted permission to three private hospitals and three private pharmacies to prescribe the anti-parasite Ivermectin to treat COVID-19.
The health centres are Avenues Clinic, Mater Dei Hospital, Datlabs Clinic, Kenlink Pharmacies, Village Pharmacy and Racecourse Pharmacy.
Ivermectin is an antiparasitic drug that is used to treat several tropical diseases, including onchocerciasis, helminthiases, and scabies.
It is also being evaluated for its potential to reduce the rate of malaria transmission by killing mosquitoes that feed on treated humans and livestock.
The drug was tried out in Peru before vaccines became available and is popular among Americans who refuse to be vaccinated but the drug has not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of any viral infection.
MCAZ projects and public relations officer Shingai Gwatidzo said the six clinics have been allowed to run clinical trials in Zimbabwe on volunteer patients under strict conditions. Said Gwatidzo:
While there are some studies that suggest potential effectiveness in the prevention and management of COVID-19, the existing data from those studies has a number of limitations, which makes it inadequate to prove effectiveness.
The framework has therefore been put in place to obtain scientific data that is relevant to the Zimbabwean context.
The MCAZ will continue to evaluate any emerging peer-reviewed publications or data on the use of Ivermectin for the treatment of COVID-19.
Data obtained from the use of Ivermectin in Zimbabwe will be critical in monitoring the safety and efficacy of Ivermectin within the Zimbabwean population.
He said the authority had set strict reporting conditions for those wishing to use Ivermectin which included submission of monthly reports detailing patient-specific therapeutic outcomes in terms of efficacy and safety.
The data gathered will then be reviewed to determine whether Ivermectin has any therapeutic value in the management of COVID-19.
Meanwhile, there have been reports of health centres and pharmacies that have been prescribing the drug without approval from the regulatory authority.
Gwatidzo reiterated that the sale and distribution of Ivermectin without the approval of MCAZ was prohibited.