Austell, South Africa’s largest black-owned pharmaceutical company, has offered to donate 500 000 tablets of chloroquine phosphate to the government's relief efforts during the COVID-19 crisis.

In terms of its letter of support provided to the Department of Health, Austell will provide 500 000 tablets of chloroquine phosphate to the government free of charge. There is currently a critical shortage of chloroquine phosphate in South Africa and this is the only initiative of its kind in the country.

Austell has made the decision to donate the drug, pending approval from the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA), based on a number of critical developments in the treatment of Covid-19:

  • There is a growing body of evidence which suggests that treatment with Chloroquine Phosphate reduces the number of days patients spend in hospital and the amount of time that a patient remains infectious – see evidence overview below.
  • Chloroquine Phosphate has been adopted in Covid-19 treatment guidelines in several countries, including China and South Korea, and has been recommended for use in France, Belgium, Australia and the USA.
  • On the 19th of March 2020, Chloroquine Phosphate was adopted in South Africa’s guidelines for the clinical management of Covid-19 published by the Department of Health and the National Institute for Communicable Diseases.

The need for this intervention is compounded by the fact that there are currently only approximately 7 200 Critical Care beds in both the public and private healthcare sectors – most of which are already in use. The need for Chloroquine Phosphate is further substantiated by the fact that South Africa is experiencing an acute shortage of healthcare personnel.

In addition to various societal strategies such as self-isolation and social distancing, treating infected patients with Chloroquine Phosphate may be an effective way to reduce the burden on our already stretched healthcare system.

Besides easing the burden on our public health system, the availability of an effective treatment such as Chloroquine Phosphate will help restore societal morale and enable our economy to recover more quickly.

In the last fifteen years, Austell has grown to become the largest 100% privately black-owned pharmaceutical company in South Africa. The decision to donate 500 000 Chloroquine Phosphate tablets is in line with Austell’s company credo “medicine with a conscience.” If the Covid-19 pandemic has taught us anything, it is that the health and safety of people must be put before every other consideration.

Austell is proud to partner with the Department of Health on this important initiative at a critical time in our country when we are still overcoming many other challenges. We call on all roleplayers in the public and private sector to play their part in halting the spread of this debilitating illness. Together, we can beat Covid-19.


Links to articles on efficacy of chloroquine phosphate to treat Covid-19: