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As Gauteng faces an escalating fourth wave of Covid-19 infections, consideration is being given for the use of two overseas drugs that have showed promise as effective early treatments in overseas trials.
This good news was disclosed by Gauteng Health MEC Nomathemba Mokgethi in an oral reply today to my questions at a virtual sitting of the Gauteng Legislature.
According to Mokgethi, Pfizer’s Paxlovid drug and Merck’s Molnupiravir drug are being considered although these drugs are not yet registered by the SA Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA).
Mokgethi said that the National Essential Medicines List Committee is looking at peer reviews to finalise approval for the use of these drugs in South Africa.
She noted that Section 21 of the Medicines Act allows for doctors to apply to SAHPRA to prescribe a drug that has been approved by an overseas regulatory authority.
Advisers to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have already recommended Merck’s Molnupiravir pill for emergency use, as it has been shown to reduce the risk of hospitalization and death from Covid-19 by 30 percent if taken within five days of the onset of symptoms.
The FDA is also considering Pfizer’s Paxlovid pill after an interim analysis showed that it was 85% effective when taken within five days of the start of symptoms.
I am encouraged that these new treatments are being actively monitored and considered for local use in saving lives from Covid-19. Hopefully supplies will be speedily procured once the necessary approvals come through.
Issued by DA Gauteng Shadow Health MEC, Jack Bloom MPL