There appears to be growing interest in Ivermectin to treat COVID-19 in humans. Ivermectin is a drug that is usually used to prevent or treat animals with parasites. However, some forms of Ivermectin are used to treat humans with parasitic worms, head lice, and rosacea.
Several reports have been received by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) with people hospitalized and requiring medical attention after self-medicating with a controversial drug intended for animals.
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What is Ivermectin?
Ivermectin is an FDA-approved drug used to treat humans with onchocerciasis and intestinal strongyloidiasis – two health conditions carried by parasitic worms. Additionally, there is a topical form of Ivermectin that is approved for use for external parasites including head lice and rosacea, a skin condition that causes redness on a person’s face.
It is most commonly used in veterinary medicine to prevent or treat heartworm disease and certain external and internal parasites in various animal species.
It’s important to understand that Ivermectin used for humans is different from that used for animals.
Why Is Ivermectin Controversial?
Early in 2020, a study was published (before scientists reviewed it) showing that Ivermectin could suppress the spread of SARS-CoV-2 — the virus that causes COVID-19 — under laboratory conditions. However, this claim was later withdrawn.
Since the paper was published, there have been various studies on how Ivermectin could be a possible treatment for COVID-19.
In late 2020, an India-based research group summarized the results of four small studies of Ivermectin as an adjunct treatment for people with COVID-19. The group review showed notable improvements in patient survival who received the drug, complementing other treatments.
However, the authors clearly state that there is a low quality of evidence and their findings should be taken with caution. In addition, the authors suggest that further trials should be conducted to establish the clinical effectiveness of Ivermectin.
What are the dangers of using Ivermectin for humans?
While Ivermectin has been approved by the FDA for humans and animals, the controversial drug is not approved to treat or prevent COVID-19. Medicines that are not prescribed by a healthcare provider and are obtained from a legitimate source should not be taken.
There are various side effects of taking Ivermectin including diarrhea, swelling of the face or limbs, hepatitis, nausea, neurological side effects (confusion, dizziness, seizures), skin rash, stomach pain, sudden drop in blood pressure, and vomiting. In addition, laboratory test abnormalities can form such as elevated liver tests and decreased white blood cell counts.
Why should I not use Ivermectin to treat COVID-19?
As previously noted, Ivermectin has not been approved by the FDA to prevent or treat COVID-19 in humans. In addition, Ivermectin is not an antiviral drug – meaning it is not intended to treat viruses.
The safety and benefits of using Ivermectin for humans to treat or prevent COVID-19 have not been established. Further clinical trials are needed to ensure the effectiveness and safety of using Ivermectin in treating COVID-19. Until then, the use of this controversial drug for the treatment of COVID-19 should be avoided.
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What do health organizations say about the use of Ivermectin for humans?
Several health organizations have given in-depth statements about the use of Ivermectin in treating COVID-19.
The FDA emphatically states that they have not approved or authorized the use of the controversial drug to treat or prevent COVID-19.
The World Health Organization (WHO) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) say the evidence for using Ivermectin for the treatment of COVID-19 is still inconclusive. Until further data are available, Ivermectin should be used only in clinical trials.
The Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) also does not recommend using Ivermectin to treat COVID-19 outside the context of clinical trials.
The manufacturer of ivermectin, Merck, also states clearly that the use of the drug in treating or preventing COVID-19 has not been established. Merck issued an official statement saying the controversial drug “has no scientific basis for a potential therapeutic effect against COVID-19 from pre-clinical studies; there is no significant evidence for clinical activity or clinical efficacy in patients with COVID-19 disease, and; about the lack of safety data in most studies. We do not believe that the available data support the safety and efficacy of ivermectin beyond the doses and populations indicated in regulatory approved prescribing information.”
Is the FDA taking action to protect people from counterfeit COVID-19 products?
The FDA has organized a task force responsible for closely monitoring counterfeit COVID-19 products. In addition, the organization is enlisting the help of major retailers to monitor counterfeit COVID-19 products in the online marketplace.
COVID-19 products sold are subject to investigation by the FDA. In addition, action is also taken if a product claims to be able to cure, diagnose, prevent, or treat COVID-19 and has not shown effectiveness and safety. The task force assigned to it has worked closely with retailers to put this list of types of COVID-19 products online.
The FDA, together with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), issue warning letters to violators of federal laws and pose a significant risk to patient health by selling unapproved and unauthorized products with false claims to treat or prevent COVID-19.
The world has been dealing with COVID-19 for some time now. Given the death rate from the pandemic, it’s no surprise that people have found alternative treatments — even ones that aren’t approved and approved by the FDA.
Although predictable, people still have to be vigilant. The FDA, along with other health organizations, do their job to evaluate all scientific data on any COVID-19 product to ensure the safety and effectiveness of each product, and then determine whether they will approve or permit it. Using COVID-19 products that are not approved or authorized by the FDA can result in serious harm.