Ivermectin is an anti-parasitic medication that has been used for decades, both for humans and animals. It can be either be applied as a lotion or taken by mouth as a tablet. Recently, it has become a popular drug because of its supposed benefit to treat or prevent COVID-19.
However, neither the FDA nor the DOH recommends its use. “We have said this many times before and we will say it again. We do not recommend the use of ivermectin for the prevention and treatment of COVID-19 as the benefits of this anti-parasitic drug for this purpose has not been established,” as FDA Director General Rolando Enrique Domingo said last month.
The US CDC corroborates the recommendations of our local health agencies, noting that “Currently available data do not show ivermectin is effective against COVID-19. Clinical trials assessing ivermectin tablets for the prevention or treatment of COVID-19 in people are ongoing.” While there are journal articles that show benefit of Ivermectin, they are mostly laboratory studies that do not necessarily translate to real life effects, and the most rigorous studies do not show any benefit for COVID-19. For instance, one review of 14 Ivermectin studies (Popp et. al, 2021) concluded:
“Based on the current very low- to low-certainty evidence, we are uncertain about the efficacy and safety of ivermectin used to treat or prevent COVID-19. The completed studies are small and few are considered high quality. Several studies are underway that may produce clearer answers in review updates. Overall, the reliable evidence available does not support the use of ivermectin for treatment or prevention of COVID-19 outside of well-designed randomized trials.”
Given the lack of proven efficacy, Ivermectin can cause unnecessary expense, create a false sense of security, and detract attention from proven measures to prevent and control COVID-19 like prompt testing, vaccination, and adherence to public health protocols like self-isolating when experiencing symptoms. Although Ivermectin is relatively well-tolerated by humans, the various unauthorized formulations that are circulating today also raises questions of safety and the risk of side effects.
1. Popp, M., et al. (2021). https://www.cochranelibrary.com/cdsr/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD015017.pub2/full