What You Need to Know About Ivermectin and COVID-19

UPDATE: As of January 15, 2021, the National Institute of Health (NIH) has updated its guidelines regarding the use of Ivermectin as a COVID-19 treatment. They have changed their stance on ivermectin from “against” to “neither for nor against,” which is the same status given to the widely-used convalescent plasma and monoclonal antibody treatments.

What is ivermectin? 

Ivermectin (Stromectol) is a medication typically used to treat a variety of parasites such as roundworms, in addition to scabies, head lice, and pubic lice. It is a tablet taken by mouth (with dosage based on your weight), typically as a single dose on an empty stomach and sometimes months later to control infections. 

What is the relationship between ivermectin and COVID-19? 

Ivermectin has been in the news recently due to studies that have shown it can inhibit the spread of severe acute respiratory syndrome COVID-19 in cell cultures. However, the government’s COVID-19 Treatment Guideline Panel currently recommends against the use of ivermectin for COVID-19 unless you are in a clinical trial setting. The studies done so far have many limitations that make it difficult to draw definite conclusions, and so more studies would need to be done before ivermectin is considered a safe and effective treatment for the coronavirus. 

Should I take ivermectin if I am worried about COVID-19? 

You should never take a prescription medication without consulting your doctor. While it is not officially approved by the FDA, it is under the discretion of individual doctors to prescribe off-label, “repurposed” uses of FDA-approved medications. So, some prescribers are currently deciding on a case-by-case basis whether or not to repurpose ivermectin for use with COVID-19 based on their personal practice and their own risk vs. benefit analysis. 

If you have further questions, you should speak with your doctor. 

What are the side effects? 

Some typical side effects of ivermectin include dizziness, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, stomach upset, and sleepiness. 

I heard ivermectin is also used for animals—can I take that version? 

Ivermectin has been approved by the FDA to prevent heartworm disease in some animals in addition to certain parasites. However, while ivermectin can be used for both animals and humans, humans should never substitute the animal version of ivermectin for the human version. While Ivermectin for animals contains the same active ingredient it is not the same formulation. Ivermectin should only ever be used for animals after consulting with a veterinarian, and it should only ever be used for humans when prescribed by a doctor. 

Again, only take prescription medications intended for humans and obtained from legitimate sources and prescribed by your doctor.

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