FDA warns against ivermectin to treat COVID-19

The FDA is warning consumers against using ivermectin to treat COVID-19, after reports of patients being hospitalized.

The drug is often used to treat or prevent parasites in animals, with some limited use in humans. But the agency has received multiple reports of patients who have required care and been hospitalized after using ivermectin meant for horses.

Ivermectin tablets are approved at very specific doses in humans for some parasitic worms, and there are topical formulations for head lice and skin conditions like rosacea. It’s not an antiviral, the agency explains. And even when it is used as intended for humans, it carries risks, including interactions with other medications and overdose.

Some forms of the drug are also used in animals to prevent heartworm disease and certain internal and external parasites.

The FDA warns that medications intended for animals are different from the products meant for people. The agency hasn’t reviewed data to support the use of ivermectin to treat or prevent COVID-19 in humans, but some initial research is underway.