The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not authorized or approved using ivermectin to prevent or treat COVID-19 in humans and has cautioned about the potential risks of using ivermectin for COVID-19. This medication is FDA-approved to treat certain infections caused by internal and external parasites, but is not authorized or approved by the FDA to prevent or treat COVID-19.
During the COVID-19 pandemic and recent surges of COVID-19 cases, rates of ivermectin prescriptions dispensed from retail pharmacies have increased, as has use of ivermectin-containing veterinary products available over the counter but not intended for human use. U.S. poison control centers have experienced a rise in calls reporting ivermectin misuses and overdoses and reports of more people experiencing adverse effects.
Adverse effects of ivermectin overdose include:
- Gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea
- Low blood pressure (hypotension)
- Neurologic effects such as decreased consciousness, confusion, hallucinations, central nervous system depression, seizures, coma, and death
Ivermectin may also increase sedative effects of other medications such as benzodiazepines and barbiturates.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) COVID-19 Treatment Guidelines Panel has determined that there are currently insufficient data to recommend using ivermectin to treat COVID-19. Clinicians and public health practitioners should educate patients about the risks of using ivermectin without an indication or prescription, as well as about the risks of ingesting ivermectin products that are meant solely for external use or veterinary use. COVID-19 vaccination is safe and the most effective means to prevent infection and protect against severe disease and death from SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Clinicians are strongly encouraged to educate patients to use proven COVID-19 prevention measures, especially getting vaccinated and boosted as soon as eligible, and use FDA-authorized treatment.
To learn more, please visit CDC’s Health Advisory on Reports of Severe Illness Associated with Use of Products Containing Ivermectin to Prevent or Treat COVID-19, and the FDA’s Why You Should Not Use Ivermectin to Treat or Prevent COVID-19.