Thursday, 30 May, 2024
HomeMedico-LegalSADF returns Cuba’s R260m ’wonder drug’ to comply with SAHPRA order

SADF returns Cuba’s R260m ’wonder drug’ to comply with SAHPRA order

South Africa’s National Defence Force (SANDF) has finally, two months after an order from the SA Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA), returned a supposed COVID-19  “wonder drug”  that was unregistered and unauthorised, which it had bought from Cuba for R260m.

Whether or not the money is to be refunded to South Africa remains unclear.

The SANDF had imported Heberon Interferon-Alpha-2B from that country during the height of the pandemic on the basis that the drug could offer protection against COVID-19 by attacking “natural interferons of the victim”. It had also, subsequently, stored the medication at unlicensed premises.

BusinessLIVE reports that the medical claims were never corroborated by SAHPRA, and the military was slammed for violating acquisition rules and health protocols to procure the drug, which came with a R260m price tag.

Late in 2021, SAHPRA ordered the defence force to return the drug to Cuba or face having it confiscated and destroyed.

Officials implicated in the scandal may still be held personally liable for the R260m originally billed by the Cubans. The SANDF has paid about R120m thus far, and it is not clear whether taxpayers will be reimbursed for what it has already spent.

SAHPRA CEO Boitumelo Semete told MPs last Wednesday (26 January) that the regulator had received correspondence from the SANDF showing that “Heberon Interferon has been repatriated”.


BusinessLIVE article – Cuba gets drugs back but there’s no sign of SA taxpayer cash (Restricted access)


See more from MedicalBrief archives:


SANDF Military Command refuses to co-operate with Public Protector on Cuban Interferon


SA Minister of Defence: Task team to investigate purchase of Interferon-B from Cuba


SAHPRA 'will destroy’ Defence Force’s R215m of illegal Cuban drugs




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