March 21, 2022
The anti-parasitic drug ivermectin does not reduce hospitalizations of people infected with COVID-19, according to a large study conducted in Canada.
Researchers at McMaster University in Ontario studied around 1,358 COVID patients who were at risk for severe disease because they had diabetes or other conditions, The Wall Street Journal reported. Half the patients were given a course of ivermectin pills for three days and the other half a placebo. Researchers then tracked the patients to see if any of them had been hospitalized.
“There was no indication that ivermectin is clinically useful,” Edward Mills, one of the study’s lead researchers and a professor of health sciences at McMaster University, told The Wall Street Journal.
The FDA has not approved any form of ivermectin to treat COVID-19. Several previous studies found ivermectin is ineffective against COVID, and last month a study published in JAMA Internal Medicine said it does not help treat mild to moderate COVID-19.
“This is the first large, prospective study that should really help put to rest ivermectin and not give any credibility to the use of it for Covid-19,” Peter Hotez, MD, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, told The Wall Street Journal.
Still, some doctors prescribe ivermectin as a COVID treatment and some anti-vaccine advocates cite it as a useable alternative.
The FDA warns people not to confuse the ivermectin designed for humans and the ivermectin designed for animals.
The FDA says it approved tablets to treat people with intestinal strongyloidiasis and onchocerciasis, conditions caused by parasitic worms, and topical medications for head lice and skin conditions like rosacea. A different form of ivermectin is used to treat horses and cows for heartworm disease and parasites and is applied as pour-on, injectable, paste, or "drench."
Ivermectin products for animals are dangerous for humans, and the ivermectin tablets for humans are not effective against COVID, the FDA says.