A warning about Ivermectin to treat COVID-19

Last Modified: 9/13/2021


This post was written based on an interview with Jeffrey Boord, MD, Chief Quality and Safety Officer, Parkview Health, and Abby Todt, manager, Pharmacy, Parkview Regional Medical Center, with additional input from Maryam Noureldin, PharmD, BCPS, BCACP, ambulatory pharmacist, Parkview Health, and FDA guidance

Ivermectin is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for human use only to treat infections caused by internal and external parasites in recommended doses provided by medical professionals. Ivermectin is also available to treat certain conditions in animals.

Is Ivermectin effective in preventing or treating a COVID-19 Infection?

Many medications, including Ivermectin, are currently being studied for prevention and treatment of COVID-19, however, currently available data does not show any benefit of Ivermectin in the prevention or treatment of COVID-19.

The research study that was published claiming Ivermectin works against COVID-19 infection has since been retracted due to ethical concerns of false and made-up data. Due to the lack of evidence, the FDA has not authorized or approved Ivermectin for use in preventing or treating COVID-19.

Additionally, national organizations of doctors and pharmacists strongly oppose the prescribing or dispensing of Ivermectin to prevent or treat COVID-19 due to the lack of evidence and rising safety concerns around the amount that would need to be administered to see an effect.

Safety concerns

There’s a lot of misinformation circulating around, and you may have heard that if your doctor does not want to prescribe Ivermectin, it's OK to take large doses of animal Ivermectin. It is not OK. Use of animal Ivermectin for the prevention or treatment of COVID-19 in humans is not only not effective, it's dangerous.

Overdosing on Ivermectin can cause nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea, hypotension (low blood pressure), allergic reactions (itching and hives), dizziness, ataxia (problems with balance), seizures, coma and even death.

Animal Ivermectin products are very different from those approved for humans. Animal drugs are often highly concentrated because they are used for large animals like horses and cows, which weigh a lot more than humans do. Such high doses can be highly toxic in humans.

Moreover, the FDA reviews drugs not just for safety and effectiveness of the active ingredients, but also for the inactive ingredients. Many inactive ingredients found in products for animals aren’t evaluated for use in people, or they are included in much greater amount than those used in people. We don't know how those inactive ingredients will affect humans. Never use medications intended for animals on yourself or other people.

Safe options for preventing and treating COVID-19

The most effective way to beat COVID-19 is to limit the spread of COVID-19. This includes getting a COVID-19 vaccine when it is available to you, wearing a face mask indoors and/or in crowded settings, frequently washing your hands and social distancing.

It’s important the public resists trusting endorsements for treatments or medications from public figures without the proven efficacy and safety that comes from clinical trials and FDA approval, which mean that the treatment showed benefit in ambulatory and/or hospital patients. 

Talk to your Parkview provider about available COVID-19 vaccines, prevention and treatment options. Your provider can help determine the best option for you, based on your health history.


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