Desmond Munemo, H-Metro Reporter
Unapproved Covid-19 drugs have hit a sprouting black market that is fleecing unsuspecting people countrywide.
The ferocious new Covid-19 wave mean boom times for profit gougers as sales and advertisements for unconventional treatments are prevailing on various social media platforms.
Black marketers for coronavirus drugs are selling antiparasitic medications such as Ivermectin, a drug used to treat several neglected tropical diseases, including onchocerciasis, helminthiases, and scabies.
“Those who want Covid-19 tablets Ivermectin, very fast recovery and treats. hit me up my inbox.
“Kunatira kwabuditswa mugame ne ivermectin,” reads one WhatsApp advert.
In an interview, Health and Child Care Deputy Minister Dr John Mangwiro said people must seek official medical assistance in the midst of the Cocid-19 pandemic.
“As a Ministry, we encourage people to avoid unconventional means of medication.
“We follow the guidelines of the World Health Organisation and proper way of dispensing medicines.
“People who are selling these drugs must not take advantage of the situation,” he maintained.
Medicines Control Authority of Zimbabwe (MCAZ) Acting Director-General Richard Rukwata issued a statement on Ivermectin:
“Members of the public are strongly urged to desist from self-prescribing and sourcing unapproved medication from unapproved sources.
“Sale and distribution of Ivermection without the approval of MCAZ is therefore prohibited.
“Several clinical studies are still being undertaken to evaluate Ivermectin’s safety and efficacy in the treatment of Covid-19 infection in vivo.
Only authorised pharmaceutical wholesale dealers will be allowed to import and supply Ivermectin to institutions such as health care facilities, dispensing medical practitioners and dispensing community pharmacies,” he said.
Several clinical trials that are evaluating the use of ivermectin for the treatment of COVID-19 are currently underway or in development.
However, US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved ivermectin for use in treating or preventing COVID-19 in humans. Ivermectin tablets are approved at very specific doses for some parasitic worms, and there are topical (on the skin) formulations for head lice and skin conditions like rosacea. Ivermectin is not an anti-viral (a drug for treating viruses).
Fears are raised over the administration of the drugs by medically unqualified sellers prescribing medication to unwary users including children, the elderly and pregnant women.
The Medicines Control Authority of Zimbabwe (MCAZ) does not recommend its use as a cure for Covid-19.
Chief coordinator of the national response to the Covid-19 pandemic, Dr Agnes Mahomva, said the drug should only be administered and dispensed in controlled environments with strict monitoring to avoid wanton and indiscriminate prescription and dispensing of such medicines.
Other drugs that have been de-shelved are also resurfacing on the black market as pharmacies are accused of cashing in on the third wave virus.