Health

Ivermectin developer begins trial of pill it hopes could prevent people from contracting Covid

Developer of Ivermectin begins late-stage trial of experimental pill it hopes could prevent COVID-19 infections 

  • Merck & Co, which develops the anti-parasite drug ivermectin, will soon begin late-stage trials for molnupiravir, which could combat viruses like Covid
  • Ivermectin has been incorrectly heralded as a potential COVID-19 treatment due to a misinterpreted study from March 2020
  • Parasite experts say that ivermectin has no virus killing properties and is ineffective against COVID-19
  • Merck hopes to distribute molnupiravir through out India to help combat the virus while the nation waits for vaccines


The developer of ivermectin is performing late-stage trials on a drug that could actually prevent COVID-19.

Merck & Co partnered with Ridgeback Biotherapeutics to develop molnupiravir.

Enrollment for late-stage trials for their drug have already started. 

The companies hope the drug could prevent COVID-19 infection in patients, but have yet to share further detail of how exactly it will be used. 

Merck is also the developer of ivermectin, an anti-parasite drug that has gained infamy due to false claims that it could combat the virus – which is the real use for molnupiravir.

Merck, developer of ivermectin, has begun late-stage trials for the drug molnupiravir that could actually prevent transmission of COVID-19 (file photo)

The belief that worming drug ivermectin could potentially treat COVID-19 spawns from an Australian study from March 2020 that showed the drug could inhibit replication of virus cells.

Results from that study are not applicable to real life, though, as the concentrations of the drug used by researchers is too high to be used on people, Dr Timothy Geary, a parasitic drug expert who has studied the drug for over a decade told the DailyMail.com.  

That has not stopped many from trying to treat themselves with the drug though.

Prescriptions for it are easy to get, according to an investigation by Salon and instances of prescriptions have increased 24-fold.

Many who can not acquire prescriptions are taking it a step further, and purchasing versions of the drug made for animals like horses.

While taking the drug in human doses, even when unneeded, is safe, according to Geary, a person using the drug in larger doses made for animals could suffer a severe overdose. 

The Kenilworth, New Jersey based company that develops the anti-parasite drug warned against using ivermectin to combat COVID-19 in a statement February.

‘[There is] no scientific basis for a potential therapeutic effect [of ivermectin] 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,’ the study read.

Ivermectin has received approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat parasite type diseases like onchocerciasis and lymphatic filariasis.

Molnupiravir could fill the role that many are currently incorrectly using ivermectin for.

Ivermectin is an FDA approved anti-parasite drug. It is not believed to have any ability to combat viruses like COVID-19 (file photo)

Ivermectin is an FDA approved anti-parasite drug. It is not believed to have any ability to combat viruses like COVID-19 (file photo)

A study by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill found that the drug could prevent replication of viral cells of COVID-19 and other similar viruses.

The drug, which can be taken via a pill, is now entering late stage trials in the United States as Merck plans to eventually seek FDA approval.

Over 1,300 volunteers aged 18 or older will be recruited for the study and live in a house with someone who has a symptomatic case of the COVID-19.

Merck also plans to use the drug in some lower income countries in the meanwhile, attempting to acquire emergency authorization.

The company has partnered with Indian generic drug manufacturers to produce and sell versions of molnupiravir in the country, pending approval from local regulators.

Merck hopes the drug could help alleviate these countries COVID-19 situations while they await a larger supply of the vaccine. ‘

Only around 36 percent of Indians have received at least one shot of the virus, and less than 11 percent are fully vaccinated. 

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