According to the findings of a big clinical experiment released on Wednesday, the anti-parasitic medicine ivermectin, which has gained popularity as an alternative therapy for Covid-19 despite a lack of robust data to support it, showed no signs of relieving the illness.
ivermectin has been successfully ruled out as a therapy for coronavirus infection in Covid, according to the study’s authors, who conducted a comparison of more than 1,300 persons infected with the virus in Brazil who got either ivermectin or a placebo.
As Dr. David Boulware, an infectious disease specialist at the University of Minnesota, explained: “There’s really no evidence that it’s beneficial.”
Despite the fact that the researchers gave a summary of their findings at an online presentation sponsored by the National Institutes of Health in August, the whole data set has not been published until today in The New England Journal of Medicine.
A parasite infection may be treated with ivermectin, which has been around for decades. During the early stages of the pandemic, when researchers were testing hundreds of old medications against Covid-19, laboratory trials on cells revealed that ivermectin could be able to inhibit the coronavirus infection.
At the time, critics pointed out that the studies were successful because the medication was used in high quantities that were much over the permissible range for humans. While some physicians continued to prescribe ivermectin for Covid-19 despite a notice from the Food and Drug Administration that the drug was not authorised for this use, others stopped prescribing it altogether.
Researchers conducted tiny clinical studies all around the globe to determine whether or not the medicine was effective in treating the ailment. Andrew Hill, a virologist at the University of Liverpool in England, conducted an analysis of the outcomes of 23 clinical studies in December 2020 and determined that ivermectin appears to considerably reduce the chance of mortality from Covid-19 infection.
Dr. Hill predicted in a presentation at the time that “this truly is going to be a transformational therapy” if bigger trials replicated the results of the smaller studies.
During the second year of the pandemic, the popularity of ivermectin continued to rise. Joe Rogan, the podcaster, has pushed it on his broadcasts several times. In a single week in August, insurance companies in the United States paid $2.4 million to cover the cost of ivermectin treatments.
However, not long after Dr. Hill released his evaluation last summer, allegations arose claiming that several of the papers he included in the analysis were defective, and in at least one instance, the research were suspected to have been fraudulent. Dr. Hill withdrew his initial research and began a new one, which he published in January of the following year.
Dr. Hill and his colleagues focused their second examination on the studies that were least likely to be skewed in their findings. The advantage of ivermectin was completely eliminated in that more rigorous study.
In June 2020, researchers in Brazil will launch a clinical study called as TOGETHER, in which they will test Covid patients with a variety of commonly used medications, including ivermectin. A double-blind study was carried out, which meant that neither the patients nor their medical personnel were aware of whether they were receiving a Covid therapeutic medicine or an inactive placebo.
Researchers discovered intriguing indications that an antidepressant medicine called fluvoxamine might minimise the requirement for hospitalisation by one-third in one round of the experiment, according to the findings. The findings of the study were published in The Lancet Global Health in October by the researchers.
The TOGETHER team released a new analysis on ivermectin data on Wednesday, which was the first time the data had been published. The medicine was administered to 679 people over the course of three days between March and August 2021, according to the researchers.
The first set of data on ivermectin, according to Dr. Sarah Dunsmore, a programme director in the clinical innovations section at the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS), was being analysed and will be released in two to three months.
Dr. Boulware was sceptical that the extra studies would provide a different outcome since the TOGETHER study was so big and well organised, in his opinion. “It’s rare that you’d expect to come across anything unusual,” he remarked.
A physician at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston who specialises in infectious diseases but was not involved in the TOGETHER study, Dr. Paul Sax, agreed with Dr. Boulware’s assessment.
In his statement, he stated, “I welcome the findings of the other clinical studies and will consider them with an open mind. However, at some point, it will become a waste of resources to continue researching an unpromising technique.”