Doctors call for crackdown on Ivermectin black market

PETALING JAYA: A coalition of doctors and medical professional groups has urged Putrajaya to crack down on the illegal sale of anti-parasitic drug Ivermectin in the wake of what the coalition said was an active black market for the drug.

The Malaysian Health Coalition said Ivermectin was sold at very high prices from veterinary supplies and other “unknown” sources, adding that false or misleading claims online had led to demand for the drug.

“We support cracking down on illegal or black market Ivermectin because we support safe medicine prescriptions for all Malaysians,” said the coalition in a statement today.

The coalition comprises 49 medical professional societies such as the Academy of Medicine, College of Surgeons, Islamic doctors association, and individual doctors.

In the wake of a health ministry statement yesterday about off-label use of Ivermectin by hospitals, the coalition said “any self-medicating or off-label use of Ivermectin could be dangerous and could distract from the national immunisation programme”. It said vaccines would be better at preventing Covid-19.

It also said there had been substantial public pressure for the National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency (NPRA) to approve the use of Ivermectin for Covid-19 treatment. The coalition said the NPRA’s process must be followed without interference.

NPRA approval must be based on evidence and not due to popular demand or police reports, the coalition said, pointing out that no other country has approved the use of Ivermectin in treating Covid-19 patients.

A police report was recently lodged by the Malaysia Muslim Consumers Association against the health ministry for not using the drug in treating Covid-19 patients.

The coalition said the World Health Organization (WHO) had advised that Ivermectin could be used only in clinical trials. If there is strong data on Ivermectin, then it should be approved for use through the standard NPRA process.

Yesterday, the health ministry said hospitals are allowed to apply to the Drug Control Authority for off-label use of Ivermectin, including treatment of Covid-19 patients.

However, the use of off-label medication must be done in a monitored environment, the ministry said.

Off-label use is a term to describe a medical drug that is used for a different purpose than originally intended. – FMT

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