As the COVID-19 pandemic carries on, researchers and pharmaceutical companies continue to find ways to stop its spread. While vaccines and social distancing are the best ways to prevent getting infected, there is still no cure. As such, some people have taken to using medication that is unapproved for COVID-19. And the FDA is not having it. They have recently published a special warning against humans using Ivermectin meant for horses, on their website.
Ivermectin is an anti-parasitic drug currently only approved by the FDA to treat specific parasitic infections like head-lice and intestinal parasites. It has also been under investigation as a drug to treat Malaria due to its toxicity towards mosquitoes.
Recently, researchers have been increasingly interested in Ivermectin’s application as a broad-spectrum antiviral. Last year, a group of scientists lead a study, published in ScienceDirect. They infected a cell culture with the COVID-19 virus and then treated them with Ivermectin. They found that the drug could inhibit the virus’ RNA replication while not causing any harm to the cells. However, this was an in-vitro experiment and the scientists call for further research to determine Ivermectin’s potential in treating COVID-19.
Besides humans, Ivermectin is also a commonly used medication to treat parasitic infections in animals. Which seems to have given people a strange idea:
“The FDA has received multiple reports of patients who have required medical support and been hospitalized after self-medicating with Ivermectin intended for horses.” Said the FDA.
“There’s a lot of misinformation around, and you may have heard that it’s okay to take large doses of ivermectin. That is wrong… For one thing, animal drugs are often highly concentrated because they are used for large animals like horses and cows, which can weigh a lot more than we do—a ton or more. Such high doses can be highly toxic in humans.”
The statement continues to list possible side effects of Ivermectin overdose, such as nausea, vomiting, hypotension, seizures, etc. It further notes that the drug can interact with other drugs in the body, so always use the prescribed amount instead of self-medicating.
The WHO has also stated that Ivermectin should only presently be used in Clinical trials until more data is available to support its effectiveness and safety.