February 1, 2023

Ivermectin was developed by Japanese biochemist, Dr. Satoshi Omura, of Kitasato University, Tokyo and Irish biologist and parasitologist, Dr. William Cecil Campbell, of the United States.
They were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2015 for the discovery of Ivermectin, a drug that revolutionized the treatment of some of the most devastating parasitic diseases in the world.
Dr. Omura used to carry plastic bags where he would place soil samples. In 1978, he cultured a strain of bacteria from a sample taken from a golf course near Tokyo, Japan. The bacteria, later named Streptomyces avermitilis, produced a substance that was purified by Dr. Campbell and identified it as avermectin.
It was shown to be effective in killing parasites in domestic and farm animals and was used to control insects and mite pests in agricultural and ornamental crops. Further, chemical tests and procedures led to the production of the semi synthetic drug Ivermectin that was effective in killing parasites in farm and domestic animals.
Ivermectin was approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration and included in the World Health Organization’s list as a broad spectrum anti-parasitic drug for the treatment of parasitic infections like onchocerciasis or river blindness, strongyloidiasis, filariasis, a disease that causes disfiguring swelling of the legs and lower body (elephantiasis), and other human diseases caused by helminths.
Parasitic infections affect about one-third of the world’s population, especially sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia – the Philippines included – and Latin America.
It has been shown to have in vitro (done in a test tube or glass dish in a laboratory medical study or experiment) anti-viral activity against several viruses like HIV-1, simian virus large tumor antigen, dengue virus, Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus, and influenza virus.
An in vivo study (done in a living specie) for the drug was done in Thailand in 2014 to 2017 against dengue virus where it was shown that it could reduce blood levels of viral NS1 protein. It did not, however, show decrease in viremia and no clinical benefit was noted. Studies are now being done to further evaluate if Ivermectin may be used in preventing viral illnesses including SARS-CoV-2 infection.
WHO, U.S. FDA, European Medicine’s Agency, the Department of Health, and local medical societies currently advise that the drug should only be used to treat Covid-19 within clinical trials.
Medical societies likewise have not included Ivermectin in their clinical guidelines on the treatment of the current coronavirus disease. We await the results of trials or studies that are being done to evaluate if the drug is safe and effective in preventing or treating Covid-19 infection – researchers study the dose, duration of treatment, and side effects; and also evaluate the outcomes in terms of prevention of disease, reduction of complications or death rate, and effect on duration of confinement – and other parameters called endpoints.
Results of these studies are then cascaded to proper health authorities who will issue guidelines that doctors and health care professionals will follow. The safest approach, as in other drugs, is not to take the drug yet.
Merck, which developed and markets Ivermectin, likewise does not advise its use in Covid-19 prevention and treatment.
Anecdotal experiences and personal testimonies from friends, relatives or neighbors are not used as basis in the formulation of clinical or medical guidelines.