Health ministry investigates pharmacologist over claims of anti-COVID-19 drug treatment

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A pharmacologist is being investigated by the Health Ministry for claiming that he developed an anti-COVID-19 drug treatment. According to a Cape Argus report, an article was published on 6 December in which a Durban-based clinical pharmacologist claimed to have developed the HIM20 drug treatment which he touted as the world’s first, orally active and specifically anti-COVID-19 drug.

He was reported to Health Minister Zweli Mkhize by Professor Salim Abdool Karim, co-chair of the ministerial advisory committee and director of the Centre for the Aids Programme of Research in South Africa.

The South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA) which reports to the health minister, confirmed that they were conducting the investigation. SAHPRA investigators said no trial had been registered.

SAHPRA spokesperson Yuven Gounden is quoted in the report as saying with the assistance of law enforcement, they were investigating the matter and tracking the whereabouts of the medicine so it could be removed from the market. “Our next step in the investigation will be to lay a criminal charge in collaboration with law enforcement against him,” he said.

The pharmacologist is quoted in the Cape Argus as saying, and according to his LinkedIn profile, he is an associate professor of pharmacology and the CEO of both his private research company and a group of pharmacies.

The pharmacologist said he conducted the trial on a private basis.

The report says attorney Reeves Parsee, representing the pharmacologist, said the attempts to discredit the work done could not be tolerated, and any suggestion that this was a new drug or medication administered without approval was mischievous and misplaced.


Full Cape Argus report (subscription needed)

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