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Ivermectin Ineffective Against Severe COVID-19 - Malaysian Study

Medically reviewed by Mae Charisse Antalan, MD · General Practitioner

Written by Jason Inocencio · Updated Jul 21, 2022

Ivermectin Ineffective Against Severe COVID-19 - Malaysian Study

A controversial drug that can supposedly treat COVID-19 is back in the headlines. A Malaysian study using ivermectin on patients with COVID-19 proves ivermectin ineffective. The study enrolled 490 patients with mild to moderate illness at 20 hospitals and a COVID-19 quarantine center in Malaysia.

Ivermectin was in the news last year when some politicians insisted that the drug should be allowed for public use. The United States Food and Drug Administration (US FDA) previously stated its opposition to using ivermectin to treat COVID-19.

What Is Ivermectin?

A study published in 2000 said ivermectin is a drug that many people will never have heard of. In 1981, ivermectin was brought to the commercial marketplace for multi-purpose use in animal health. By 1987, it was registered for human use. The study said ivermectin “improved the lives and productivity of billions of humans, livestock, and pets around the globe.”

Ivermectin belongs to a class of drugs known as antihelmintics. Ivermectin is a derivative of avermectin B and is administered orally. It is a pesticide that kills microfilariae in animals. Ivermectin was also used to treat onchocerciasis or “river blindness” caused by black flies.

The onslaught of the COVID-19 pandemic saw many scrambling for remedies to treat the disease. Some turned to ivermectin with little evidence to prove that it worked.

Malaysian Study Results

Dr. Rontgene Solante of the Philippine Society for Microbiology and Infectious Diseases (PSMID) says there are now enough studies now to recommend not using ivermectin on COVID-19 patients.

“In this randomized clinical trial of high-risk patients with mild to moderate COVID-19, ivermectin treatment during early illness did not prevent progression to severe disease. The study findings do not support the use of ivermectin for patients with COVID-19,” read the study.  The JAMA Network published a copy last Friday.

“It significantly tells us that ivermectin doesn’t work and is not effective in the prevention of severe infection or severe COVID among those who will be getting this treatment,” Solante told ABS-CBN News. “That’s an indication (that) we don’t need ivermectin for the treatment of COVID-19.”

Ivermectin Against COVID-19?

The US FDA released their findings last year after receiving multiple reports of patients who required medical attention after using ivermectin. These people self-medicated with ivermectin intended for livestock and some ended up hospitalized.

The same FDA warned that they have not authorized or approved the use of ivermectin to treat COVID-19 in humans or animals. To treat infections caused by parasitic worms, head lice, and skin conditions, ivermectin was approved for human use.

The Philippines FDA granted Compassionate Special Permits (CSP) to several hospitals to use ivermectin in treating COVID-19 patients. PSMID Philippine COVID-19 Living Clinical Practice Guidelines previously discouraged using ivermectin for that purpose. The Philippine Department of Health (DOH) clarified that only registered oral and intravenous ivermectin products are for animal medication.

Ivermectin Ineffective Against Severe COVID

Malaysia’s study had 490 patients diagnosed with a mean age of 62.5 years. Approximately two-thirds of the patients had moderate COVID-19. Two-hundred forty-one were in the intervention group, while 249 were in the control group.

The intervention group received five doses of ivermectin. Solante said that the randomized control methodology of this study effectively concludes that ivermectin does not prevent severe COVID. “There were no significant differences between ivermectin and control groups,” said the study.

“The Department of Health (DOH) and the Food and Drug Authority (FDA) would like to reiterate that the use of anti-parasitic drug Ivermectin for the treatment of COVID-19 is not recommended because it had no significant effect on symptom resolution and hospitalization rates as well as it did not reduce the risk of developing severe disease according to the findings of recently published scientific journal articles,” a statement read.

Key Takeaways

  • A Malaysian study reveals that the controversial drug ivermectin is ineffective in treating severe COVID-19.
  • The US and Philippine FDAs previously warned against self-medication and the use of ivermectin.
  • Ivermectin is used on animals to treat parasitic worms and head lice.
  • The DOH hopes this closes the door on ivermectin and will instead focus on drugs that have benefits against coronavirus.

For more on Coronavirus, click here.


Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Medically reviewed by

Mae Charisse Antalan, MD

General Practitioner

Written by Jason Inocencio · Updated Jul 21, 2022

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