By Robert Tapfumaneyi
THIS week’s approval by the government for the use and importation of the anti-parasite drug Ivermectin to treat Covid-19 has created a huge demand for the injectable product.
However, veterinarians are worried the approval will have a serious negative impact on the animal health sector.
Zimbabwe and neighbouring South Africa have seen a huge surge in the demand for the Ivermectin drug following reports it helped in treating the Covid-19 virus.
However, Peter Oberem, the chief executive of Afrivet, a South African-based animal health company, told NewZimbabwe.com there was no concrete scientific evidence to prove ivermectin was suitable for treating human beings, but its demand for Covid-19 treatment was already affecting the animal health industry.
“The very sudden demand increases for Ivermectin injectable products based on beliefs that it may help prevent and treat Covid-19 is directly impacting the animal health industry,” he said.
“There are no registered or licensed Ivermectin products suitable for human use in South Africa.
“Desperate people, people who have seen the calls in the press and social media from many doctors and credible sources internationally for the product to be ‘legalised’ for use in the prevention and treatment of Covid-19, do desperate things, resulting in the growing black market in the import and perhaps manufacture of Ivermectin products in the country.”
Oberem added: “Many have turned to the animal formulations. These formulations are different from those registered for human use. Their safety has never been tested in people. It is also illegal to recommend or use these in humans.”
Announcing the approval of the use of Ivermectin this week, the health ministry said: “In these difficult times of Covid-19 treatment, we have to be careful to protect patients as well as not to deny them effective treatment regimes.
“It is in this regard, the authority is hereby granted for you to proceed to allow importation and use of these medicines under the supervision and guidance you outlined.”
The approval also comes following the deaths of several cabinet ministers, top government, company executives and hundreds of ordinary people from Covid-19 in the past few days.