MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Ivermectin is an anti-parasitic drug. It can be used to treat parasites, scabies and worms in both humans and animals. Recently, it has gained popularity by some to try and treat COVID-19 but has not been recommended by doctors.   

“Currently the data is insufficient to say that ivermectin can be used to safely and effectively treat or prevent Covid-19,” said Meera Mehta, a WVU Medicine Infectious diseases clinical pharmacist. “So, it’s not something that we can say that has a huge impact about the treatment and prevention of covid 19 at this time.”  

Ivermectin can come in different forms like pastes, lotions or tablets. The dosages for all types are different for humans and animals. Mehta said higher doses aren’t for humans and that at WVU Medicine they base their treatment recommendations on science.  

“It’s very dangerous for people to use a medication that has not proved its safety and efficacy for a certain disease,” Mehta said. “We are hearing of cases where people were calling poising control centers because they have actually overdosed on ivermectin, or people have even been hospitalized for taking ivermectin.” 

There are studies and clinical trials happening to test Ivermectin and its effectiveness, but experts don’t have results yet. 

The FDA issued a warning on their website that said, “Ivermectin has not been shown to be safe or effective for these indications. There’s a lot of misinformation around, and you may have heard that it’s okay to take large doses of ivermectin. It is not okay.”  

Warning sign in store on ivermectin shelf

The risks related with overdosing on ivermectin include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, hypotension (low blood pressure), allergic reactions (itching and hives), dizziness, ataxia (problems with balance), seizures, coma and even death. 

Mehta said for now we should stick to what we know works.  

“We know that vaccines work. There’s a tremendous amount of study results showing the safety and efficacy in tens of thousands of people who were tested in clinical trials.”  

She encouraged patients to ask their doctors questions to understand why they’re not recommending Ivermectin at this time and to find the best treatments for Covid-19.