Ivermectin was identified in the late 1970s and first approved for use in animals in 1981, with potential use in humans confirmed a few years later. When taken orally, it has a good safety profile with low adverse effects, scientists at online portal NPS Medicinewise has reported.
The NPS is an independent, not-for-profit, evidence-based, consumer-centred outfit of over two decades standing.
This is even as the United States Food and Drug Administration has stated that additional testing is required for use of ivermectin in patients with COVID-19.
The antiparasitic medicine has attracted interest in the wake of COVID-19 global pandemic, as claims and counter-claims about its possible use for the management of the infection became an issue.
As published in the Biochem journal, ivermectin was touted to have shown anti-viral activity against a broad range of viruses in vitro. It has been hypothesised that ivermectin may exert its anti-viral activity against SARS-CoV-2 by inhibiting IMPα/β1-mediated nuclear import of viral proteins.
Some evidence of a positive benefit has been described by small observational studies. However, heterogeneity among the trial designs and methodologies limits any conclusions about the utility of this medicine to date.
A pre-print of a randomised trial from Bangladesh by Chowdhury et al compared ivermectin and doxycycline vs HCQ and AZT in patients with mild to moderate COVID-19 infection who had tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 using RT PCR. Patients (n = 116) were randomly assigned to receive either.
A pre-print study was recently deleted from the pre-print server after there were concerns about the data used by the authors of the study.
The study derived data from the Surgisphere database, an analytics company who claimed to have assembled large and detailed databases that included real-time medical records from many hospitals around the world.
Several other articles on treatments for COVID-19 published in the New England Journal of Medicine and The Lancet were also retracted, after co-authors of the studies could not verify the validity of COVID-19 patient data extracted from Surgisphere.
Investigations by The Scientist and the Guardian identified discrepancies in Surgisphere’s claims going back years. The company website has now been taken offline, NPS has reported.
In a june 2020 report, The Scientist reported that, “The company behind a now-discredited study on hydroxychloroquine also posted a report that has been cited by Latin American governments recommending ivermectin as a possible coronavirus treatment. Clinicians there say the effects have been extremely damaging.”
The publication warned further, “With ivermectin firmly entrenched in political and public minds as a weapon against the pandemic, the question of evidence is now of secondary importance for some members of the medical and scientific communities.”
It may be recalled that the World Health Organisation had excluded ivermectin from its co-sponsored Solidarity Trial for COVID-19 treatments; while the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO), the WHO regional office for the Americas, had also advised against using ivermectin for any purposes other than for those for which use is authorised.
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