[Editor’s note: There has been a growing in the medical community about the surge in interest and use of the horse dewormer ivermectin as a treatment for COVID-19. Facing intense political pressure, a number of countries have listed the anti-parasitic drug as part of their national guidelines. And in fact the drug is available in prescription-only form for use by humans. Its use is controversial and can even be dangerous as c/net recently reported. One of the fascinating questions is how did we get from there—a horse drug with very little track record for use in humans—to there—a large number of people who reject taking vaccines on the grounds that they are ‘unproven’ and ‘not fully tested’ are willing to take a drug that is unproven and not tested for its current usage. The answer of course is the larger infection here: ideology. The GLP found this article, which we’ve excerpted below, particularly informative.]
The argument over ivermectin has, like so many things these days, become politicized, and the treatment has attracted a following of vaccine skeptics in America and those who don’t put much weight in the information coming from the FDA, CDC and other official channels. In fact, the debate over ivermectin is, at its root, a debate over the nature of scientific proof and the question of how any of us know whom to trust.
Besides being a well-established, widely used medication, ivermectin, because it is no longer under patent, is also cheap. For many who argue ivermectin is an underutilized wonder drug against COVID-19, this is the crux of the matter. The big pharmaceutical companies, they say, do not want this affordable, common generic drug competing with the newer, patented, lucrative drugs that are otherwise used to treat COVID.
“There’s no money to be made off ivermectin,” Dr. Pierre Kory… said on the Joe Rogan Experience podcast in July.
Interest in ivermectin as a COVID-19 treatment emerged after scientists found in 2020 that it was effective at stopping the duplication of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, in a laboratory setting.
But the lab results kicked off a number of clinical trials to determine if the drug might actually work in people. There were a few promising early results… and some doctors, desperate for any weapon to fight the pandemic, began incorporating it into their treatment of COVID patients. The drug fell out of favor as more regimented studies failed to prove it effective.
The fact is, most people lack the expertise and the time to make any sort of sense out of the competing studies, observations, papers, preprints, meta-analyses, websites and journals in which the ivermectin story has played out, and it comes down to whom people choose to trust.
One one side is the CDC, FDA and other medical authorities that have warned and recommended against the use of ivermectin to treat COVID-19, instead promoting vaccines and the use of masks. On the other side are the proponents of ivermectin, some of whom have found an audience through wildcat self-promotion online and have gained airtime on media outlets that position themselves as outside the mainstream.
In a time of great fear and uncertainty, most people are, to some degree, making a leap of faith in one direction or the other.
[Editor’s note: There are a slew of articles coming out further contextualing this developing story. On August 30, the FDA sent a letter to veterinarians and and animal health product retailers to stop dispensing to humans prescriptions of the version of the drug targeted for animals. The GLP will keep you updated of further developments.]