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No, Ivermectin is not FDA-approved for treating or preventing COVID-19

The FDA warns ivermectin is not approved for use in treating or preventing COVID-19

ATLANTA — More than a year into the pandemic, the 11Alive Verify team remains committed to fact checking claims on social media and addressing your questions when it comes to ways to prevent and treat COVID-19. 

Viewer Daniel reached out about the drug ivermectin and its potential use when it comes to coronavirus. 

THE QUESTION

"Some say the drug ivermectin can be used instead of the approved COVID-19 vaccinations. Is this true?"

THE SOURCES

  • The U.S. Food & Drug Administration
  • Biopharmaceutical company Merck
  • The World Health Organization
  • The Infectious Diseases Society of America
  • 11Alive Medical Correspondent Dr. Sujatha Reddy

THE ANSWER

This claim is false. The FDA confirms the drug ivermectin is not approved for the prevention or treatment of COVID-19. The World Health Organization, among other medical groups, also confirms the drug should not be used for COVID-19 outside of clinical trials. 

WHAT WE FOUND

According to the FDA, ivermectin is often used in the U.S. to treat or prevent parasites in animals. The tablet form is also approved by the agency to treat people with intestinal strongyloidiasis and onchocerciasis, two conditions caused by parasitic worms. In addition, some topical (on the skin) forms of ivermectin are approved to treat external parasites like head lice and for skin conditions such as rosacea. 

But as Daniel points out, there is also a worldwide discussion about whether the drug could have other uses when it comes to COVID-19. 

However, Dr. Reddy said the idea that the drug can be used instead of the COVID-19 vaccine is absolutely false. 

"That's absolutely not true," Dr. Reddy explained. "For one thing, nothing replaces a vaccine. There's no oral or medication that will give you the same benefit as the vaccination."

The FDA website explicitly warns ivermectin is not approved for use in treating or preventing COVID-19. While the agency acknowledges some early research is underway, it makes clear that 'taking a drug for an unapproved use can be very dangerous.'

"There’s a lot of misinformation around, and you may have heard that it’s okay to take large doses of ivermectin," the agency's website states. "That is wrong." 

"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."

"We're hearing about stories of people obtaining this in, you know, sort of, under the table channels, and often you're getting a veterinary dose of this drug, which can have major side effects and complications," Dr. Reddy said. 

Scientists with drug company Merck, which manufactures the brand-name of ivermectin, also re-affirmed its February statement to the Verify team which said there's 'no meaningful evidence' it helps patients with Covid-19. 

Meanwhile, both the World Health Organization and the Infectious Diseases Society of America advise avoiding the drug outside of clinical trials. According to IDSA, "Well-designed, adequately powered, and well-executed clinical trials are needed to inform decisions on treating COVID-19 with ivermectin."

In summary, while research studying ivermectin as a possible treatment may be in early phases, sources repeatedly confirm the drug is not currently approved for treating or preventing COVID-19.

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