Head lice drug now being studied as potential coronavirus treatment
Two preliminary studies of ivermectin have shown some promise in treating COVID-19.
Story at a glance
- Ivermectin is an antiparasitic drug sometimes used to treat head lice.
- The use of ivermectin dates back to the 1970s and 1980s and was first used to treat tiny roundworms called nematodes in cattle, then for river blindness in humans.
- Researchers warn the drug’s viability in treating the coronavirus is still in its early stages.
While recent reports have focused on hydroxychloroquine, an antimalarial drug, as a possible treatment for COVID-19, an antiparasitic drug sometimes used to treat head lice is showing some promise as a potential treatment, according to ABC News.
Experts are expressing cautious optimism following two preliminary studies of the drug called ivermectin.
“Finding a safe, affordable, readily available therapy like ivermectin, if it proves effective with rigorous evaluation, has the potential to save countless lives,” Dr. Nirav Shah, an infectious disease specialist at the NorthShore University HealthySystem told ABC News.
Ivermectin was developed in the 1970s and 1980s and was first used to treat tiny roundworms called nematodes in cattle, then for river blindness in humans. More recently, ivermectin has been used to topically treat head lice, ABC reports.
A team of Australian scientists recently studied ivermectin in vitro as a potential drug against the coronavirus.
“We found that even a single dose could essentially remove all viral RNA by 48 hours and that even at 24 hours there was a really significant reduction in it,” Dr. Kylie Wagstaff, the leader of the team from Melbourne’s Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute, told ABC News.
The coronavirus is not a parasite, but researchers suggest ivermectin treats it like one in a sense, blocking viral RNA from invading health cells. The RNA is then slowed from replicating, giving the patient’s immune system time to fight the illness off. Researchers said the next step is to “determine the correct human dosage — ensuring the doses shown to effectively treat the virus in vitro are safe for humans.”
Meanwhile, another study by researchers at the University of Utah found “critically ill patients with lung injury requiring mechanical ventilation may benefit from administration of ivermectin,” according to ABC News.
Dr. Amit Patel, lead author of the University of Utah study, said researchers noted a lower mortality and reduced health care resource use in those treated with ivermectin.
Both studies are careful to emphasize that their findings need further research.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) last week said it was concerned about the health of consumers “who may self-medicate by taking ivermectin products intended for animals, thinking they can be a substitute for ivermectin intended for humans.” Ivermectin is still widely used to treat parasites in some animals.
The agency said additional testing is needed to determine whether the drug might be safe or effective to prevent or treat coronavirus.
Promises, promises, promises.....,
Dr. Fauci will just declare this results as anecdotal. So, there!