New research is indicating that antiparasitic drug ivermectin is an effective prophylaxis (preventive treatment) and treatment for COVID-19. Apart from its widespread use against blood-sucking surface parasites such as lice and scabies, it's also used in treating internal parasites such as ascariasis (intestinal worms). The drug is used in treating some more lesser-known diseases such as heartworm and river blindness. Additionally, it is also widely used in veterinary medicine for the same purpose, in both pets and livestock. It won its creators a Nobel prize.
"Our latest research shows, once again, that when the totality of the evidence is examined, there is no doubt that ivermectin is highly effective as a safe prophylaxis and treatment for COVID-19," said Paul E. Marik, M.D., FCCM, FCCP, founding member of the FLCCC and Chief, Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine at Eastern Virginia Medical School.
"We can no longer rely on many of the larger health authorities to make an honest examination of the medical and scientific evidence. So, we are calling on regional public health authorities and medical professionals around the world to demand that ivermectin be included in their standard of care right away so we can end this pandemic once and for all."
Backlash from the FDA
These cries to have the drug reviewed for its potential treatment options stem from the fact that organizations such as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are against its use in treating COVID-19. "The FDA has received multiple reports of patients who have required medical support and been hospitalized after self-medicating with ivermectin intended for horses," writes the FDA on its site.
The organization adds that taking large doses of this drug is dangerous and can cause serious harm and that any prescription for the drug should be taken exactly as prescribed and not for other uses.
"Even the levels of ivermectin for approved uses can interact with other medications, like blood-thinners. You can also overdose on ivermectin, which can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, hypotension (low blood pressure), allergic reactions (itching and hives), dizziness, ataxia (problems with balance), seizures, coma, and even death," further writes the FDA.
The FDA also writes that taking a drug for an unapproved use can be very dangerous especially if taking a dose approved for animals like horses or cows that are much bigger than humans.
At this stage, it's hard to determine who is correct about the drug. Normally, peer-reviewed research would be enough to give a drug some credibility, but the FDA's strong opposition, in this case, gives serious cause for worry. More research will need to be conducted to accept ivermectin as a viable COVID-19 treatment.
The new study is published in the American Journal of Therapeutics.