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Is ivermectin a proven treatment for COVID-19?

This article was published on
March 24, 2021

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There have been multiple studies looking at ivermectin to prevent or treat COVID-19. The drug has not been approved for COVID-19 by the World Health Organization (WHO), the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or the European Medicinces Agency (EMA). The current US National Institutes of Health recommendation states that "there are insufficient data for the COVID-19 Treatment Guidelines Panel (the Panel) to recommend either for or against the use of ivermectin for the treatment of COVID-19."  

There have been multiple studies looking at ivermectin to prevent or treat COVID-19. The drug has not been approved for COVID-19 by the World Health Organization (WHO), the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or the European Medicinces Agency (EMA). The current US National Institutes of Health recommendation states that "there are insufficient data for the COVID-19 Treatment Guidelines Panel (the Panel) to recommend either for or against the use of ivermectin for the treatment of COVID-19."  

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What our experts say

Since mid-2020, ivermectin has been discussed as a possible therapy to treat or prevent COVID-19 because it has shown some ability to act as an antiviral in non-human lab studies. Some studies have shown promising results and have made headlines around the world, but not all studies have shown positive outcomes, and many are not rigorous enough to influence healthcare decisions. Health experts say more information is needed. The U.S. National Institutes of Health (U.S. NIH) has noted that most of the studies on ivermectin have incomplete information and have limitations that impact how reliable the study may be. The U.S. NIH has further said that "results from adequately powered, well-designed, and well-conducted clinical trials are needed to provide further guidance on the role of ivermectin in the treatment of COVID-19." Though ivermectin is approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration (U.S. FDA) for other illnesses, the U.S. FDA has stated that they have not approved ivermectin to treat or prevent viral infections, including COVID-19. Similarly, ivermectin has not been approved as a treatment for COVID-19 by the World Health Organization (WHO) or the European Medicinces Agency (EMA). The organizations recommend that ivermectin only be used for COVID-19 in clinical research studies. The current U.S. National Institutes of Health recommendation states that "there are insufficient data for the COVID-19 Treatment Guidelines Panel (the Panel) to recommend either for or against the use of ivermectin for the treatment of COVID-19."   The U.S. FDA has also noted that there have been multiple reports of people being hospitalized for taking ivermectin intended for horses. They have said that people should not use ivermectin intended for animals as a treatment for COVID-19. 

Context and background

Ivermectin has been used to treat infectious diseases in humans and animals for over thirty years. It is used to treat roundworm infections, scabies, lice, and other parasites.

Resources

  1. The FDA-approved drug ivermectin inhibits the replication of SARS-CoV-2 in vitro, 2020 (Antiviral Research)
  2. FDA letter to stakeholders: do not use ivermectin intended for animals as treatment for COVID-19 in humans, 2020 (United States Food and Drug Administration)
  3. Ivermectin and COVID-19: a report in Antiviral research, widespread interest, an FDA warning, two letters to the editor and the authors' responses, 2020 (Antiviral Res)
  4. ICON (Ivermectin in COvid Nineteen) study: Use of ivermectin is associated with lower mortality in hospitalized patients with COVID-19, 2020 (medRxiv)
  5. COVID-19 Treatment Guidelines (United States National Institutes of Health)
  6. COVID-19 Treatment Guidelines: Ivermectin (United States Food National Institutes of Health)
  7. Why You Should Not Use Ivermectin to Treat or Prevent COVID-19 (United Stated Food and Drug Administration)
  8. Table 2c. Ivermectin: Selected Clinical Data (United States Food National Institutes of Health)
  9. EMA advises against use of ivermectin for the prevention or treatment of COVID-19 outside randomised clinical trials (European Medicines Agency)
  10. Meta-analysis of randomized trials of ivermectin to treat SARS-CoV-2 infection (Research Square- preprint)
  11. FAQ: COVID-19 and Ivermectin Intended for Animals (United Stated Food and Drug Administration)

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