The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) has detected an increase in the amount of a drug called Ivermectin being imported and it warns against the use of this drug for the treatment of COVID-19 as it is untested for this condition.

Ivermectin is an anti-parasitic drug which has been shown to be effective in vitro against a broad range of viruses including HIV, dengue, influenza and zika.

However, it is not approved for the treatment of COVID-19. In a statement, the TGA said: ‘The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), part of the Department of Health, has detected increased importation and prescribing of Ivermectin for the treatment of COVID-19.’

‘The TGA strongly discourages self-medication and self-dosing with Ivermectin for COVID-19 as it may be dangerous to your health.’

Even the drug’s manufacturer warns against using it this way

Even the drug’s manufacturer, Merck Sharp & Dohme (MSD), has urged people not to use the medication to treat COVID-19, warning in a statement saying:

“No scientific basis for a potential therapeutic effect against COVID-19 from pre-clinical studies; No meaningful evidence for clinical activity or clinical efficacy in patients with COVID-19 disease, and a concerning lack of safety data in the majority of studies.”

Despite those urgings, Ivermectin’s popularity amongst fringe medical and anti-vaccination groups – and its promotion via the Internet – has seen demand for it increase here in Australia.

Ivermectin is often promoted by anti-COVID figures

The cheap and common drug is often promoted by anti-COVID vaccination or anti-lockdown figures, such as former Liberal backbencher Craig Kelly and a number of US conservative, fringe campaigners.

Ivermectin has been used around the world for years as a treatment for a range of conditions including head lice, parasites, worms and scabies. It is available as a pill, lotion and shampoo.

The drug’s advocates have pointed to several studies which allegedly show its effectiveness against COVID-19.

Some Australian research indicated Ivermectin could inhibit the virus from replicating within a cell and reported the drug warrants further investigation into the possible benefits for humans. However, this trial was only carried out in a laboratory.

Other research found the amounts needed of Ivermectin would not be possible for human and other research said there was ‘conflicting’ evidence as to its benefits.

The Cochrane alliance, a global collaboration between scientists to assess clinical research, said the completed studies were “small and few are considered high quality”.

“We are uncertain about the efficacy and safety of Ivermectin used to treat or prevent COVID‐19,” the alliance reported.

The TGA has not approved the drug for COVID-19 treatment, saying more investigation was needed.

What’s happening overseas? In the United States, health authorities have warned people against using doses of Ivermectin.

The problem has become noticeable in some states where local health authorities have noticed dramatic increases in poisoning.

The Health Department of the US State of Mississippi said 70 per cent of the calls it received recently about poisoning have been related to people taking Ivermectin.

Photo: Getty Images

This article first appeared on Over60.