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Does ivermectin (‘Wonder drug’ from Japan) Benefit COVID-19 Patients?

Immediate Rent got an email from one of our users, it is about a very controversial topic. Some people believe that Ivermectin is very effective against COVID – 19. Its popularity as a preventative against COVID-19 has surged around the world.

Price for the drug skyrocketed. One pill now sells from $4 to $20…. One pill ….. $20!!!! And it is very difficult to buy, just because shelfs are empty even at online drugstores.

What is ivermectin?

Ivermectin, an inexpensive medication, has been widely used for decades to treat livestock and people infested with parasitic worms.

Ivermectin was discovered in the late-1970s, a dihydro derivative of avermectin—originating solely from a single microorganism isolated at the Kitasato Intitute, Tokyo, Japan from Japanese soil—has had an immeasurably beneficial impact in improving the lives and welfare of billions of people throughout the world.

Originally introduced as a veterinary drug, it kills a wide range of internal and external parasites in commercial livestock and companion animals. It was quickly discovered to be ideal in combating two of the world’s most devastating and disfiguring diseases which have plagued the world’s poor throughout the tropics for centuries. It is now being used free-of-charge as the sole tool in campaigns to eliminate both diseases globally. It has also been used to successfully overcome several other human diseases and new uses for it are continually being found.

There are few drugs that can seriously lay claim to the title of ‘Wonder drug’, penicillin and aspirin being two that have perhaps had greatest beneficial impact on the health and wellbeing of Mankind. But ivermectin can also be considered alongside those worthy contenders, based on its versatility, safety and the beneficial impact that it has had, and continues to have, worldwide—especially on hundreds of millions of the world’s poorest people.

When it first appeared in the late-1970s, ivermectin, a derivative of avermectin was a truly revolutionary drug, unprecedented in many ways. It was the world’s first endectocide, forerunner of a completely new class of antiparasitic agents, potently active against a wide range of internal and external nematodes and arthropods. In the early-1970s, a novel international Public Sector–Private Sector partnership was initiated by one of us (Ōmura, then head of the Antibiotics Research Group at Tokyo’s Kitasato Institute), forming a collaboration with the US-based Merck, Sharp and Dohme (MSD) pharmaceutical company. Under the terms of the research agreement, researchers at the Kitasato Institute isolated organisms from soil samples and carried out preliminary in vitro evaluation of their bioactivity. Promising bioactive samples were then sent to the MSD laboratories for further in vivo testing where a potent and promising novel bioactivity was found, subsequently identified as being caused by a new compound, which was named ‘avermectin’. Despite decades of searching around the world, the Japanese microorganism remains the only source of avermectin ever found.1) Originating from a single Japanese soil sample and the outcome of the innovative, international collaborative research partnership to find new antiparasitics, the extremely safe and more effective avermectin derivative, ivermectin, was initially introduced as a commercial product for Animal Health in 1981. It is effective against a wide range of parasites, including gastrointestinal roundworms, lungworms, mites, lice and hornflies.7–12) Ivermectin is also highly effective against ticks, for example, the ixodid tick Rhipicephalus (Boophilus) microplus, one of the most important cattle parasites in the tropics and subtropics, which causes enormous economic damage.

Ivermectin as a human drug

The origins of ivermectin as a human drug are inextricably linked with Onchocerciasis (or River Blindness), a chronic human filarial disease caused by infection with Onchocerca volvulus worms. The parasites are transmitted via the bite of infected blackflies of the genus Simulium, which breed in highly-oxygenated, fast-flowing rivers and watercourses. In the human body, immature larval forms of the parasite create nodules in subcutaneous tissue, where they mature into adult worms. After mating, female worms can release up to 1000 microfilariae a day for some 10–14 years. These move through the body, and when they die they cause a variety of conditions, including skin rashes, lesions, intense itching, oedema and skin depigmentation.

In the early-1970s, the disease was endemic in 34 countries: 27 in Africa; 6 in the Americas; and 1 in the Arabian Peninsula. The World Health Organization (WHO) later estimated that 17.7 million people were infected worldwide, of whom some 270,000 were blind, and another 500,000 severely visually disabled.

In the mid-1970s, the global community mobilized itself to address the major problems of neglected tropical diseases. Following the setting up of the OCP in 1974, the UN-based Special Programme for Research & Training in Tropical Diseases (TDR) was established in 1975.20) Onchocerciasis, one of two filarial infections among TDR’s eight target diseases, was at that time a major public health problem affecting 20–40 million people in endemic areas. At exactly this time, a specialized novel anthelmintic mouse screening model in Merck’s research laboratories was identifying the avermectins in the microbial sample sent by the Kitasato Institute, of which ivermectin would become the most successful derivative. At the time, there were no safe and acceptable drugs available to treat Onchocerciasis, which had plagued Africa for centuries.

In reality, ivermectin’s role in human medicine effectively began in April 1978 inside the Merck company, several years before the drug emerged on the Animal Health market. The highly potent bioactivity of a fermentation broth of an organism isolated by the Kitasato Institute in Tokyo, which had been sent to Merck’s research laboratories in 1974, was first identified in 1975. The active compounds were identified by the international multidisciplinary collaborative team as the avermectins, with the subsequently-refined ivermectin derivative being designated the optimal compound for development. Merck scientists, under the direction of Dr William Campbell, found that the drug was active against a wide range of parasites of livestock and companion animals.

In January 1980, Merck decided to proceed independently to Phase I (safety) trials. Clinical trials of ivermectin began in 1981, with a Phase I trial in 32 patients in Senegal followed by another trial in Paris among 20 West African immigrants. These trials were independently organized and funded by Merck, with a staff member, Dr Mohamed Aziz, previously of WHO, being the caring and committed driving force behind them.

Merck saw ivermectin as a potentially commercial product to be used for individual patient treatment, and moved forward constantly seeking an income return on its investment.

Soon after its use became widespread in animal health, ivermectin resistance began to appear, at first in small ruminants but also, more significantly in cattle parasites.

Ivermectin has continually proved to be astonishingly safe for human use. Indeed, it is such a safe drug, with minimal side effects, that it can be administered by non-medical staff and even illiterate individuals in remote rural communities, provided that they have had some very basic, appropriate training. This fact has helped contribute to the unsurpassed beneficial impact that the drug has had on human health and welfare around the globe, especially with regard to the campaign to fight Onchocerciasis.

Today, ivermectin is being increasingly used worldwide to combat other diseases in humans, such as Strongyloidiasis (which infects some 35 million each year), scabies (which causes 300 million cases annually), Pediculosis, Gnathostomiasis and Myiasis—and new and promising properties and uses for ivermectin and other avermectin derivatives are continuing to be found.58) These include activity against another neglected tropical disease, Leishmaniasis.59,60) Of perhaps even greater significance is the evidence that the use of ivermectin has both direct and indirect beneficial impact on improving community health.

In reality, the renewed interest in fighting tropical diseases, including the involvement of the pharmaceutical industry, which has become increasingly evident over the past three decades, and which has saved lives and improved the welfare of billions of people, notably the poor and disadvantaged in the topics, can be traced back to the 1987 introduction of ivermectin for use in humans. According to a recent report, International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers & Associations (IFPMA) data show that the global pharmaceutical industry provided over $9.2 billion in health interventions (medicines and equipment) between 2000–2007 alone, benefitting 1.75 billion people worldwide.

It has, thus far, been a long and eventful journey from ivermectin’s origins in Japanese soil. Fortunately, and contrary to the position seen with most antibiotics, despite several decades of monotherapy and occasional suboptimal responses observed in some individuals, there is no conclusive evidence that drug resistance is developing in human Onchocercal parasites. Not surprisingly, public health specialists worldwide are now calling for greater and more extensive use of ivermectin, labelling MDA of the ‘wonder drug’ quite simply as “an underutilized public health strategy”. In response, the Kitasato Institute has initiated a global collaboration to investigate all properties and potential of a range of ivermectin analogues, both individually and in combination, particularly with a view to having a ready-made alternative should resistance to current ivermectin monotherapy ever threaten ongoing disease elimination campaigns.

Ivermectin is approved in the United States under the brand name STROMECTOL. STROMECTOL is indicated for the treatment of intestinal (i.e., nondisseminated) strongyloidiasis due to the nematode parasite Strongyloides stercoralis and for the treatment of onchocerciasis due to the nematode parasite Onchocerca volvulus.

Merck Statement on Ivermectin use During the COVID-19 Pandemic

On Feb. 4, 2021 – Merck (NYSE: MRK), made a statement It is important to note that, to-date, our analysis has identified:

• 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.

Ivermectin In Canada

Alberta Veterinary Laboratories in Calgary has received approval to manufacture ivermectin pour-on for cattle in 2009, after four years of trials and submissions to Health Canada and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.

It is the first Canadian company to get approval to manufacture a product of this type to control lice, gastrointestinal worms, warbles, sarcoptic mange mites and flies. The product is registered only as a pour-on product for cattle although the company is also researching options for injectable product. The actual product seems made by Solvet located at the same address as Alberta Veterinary Laboratories in Calgary.

Should I Take Ivermectin To Prevent or Treat COVID-19?

It is a very personal question. While there are approved uses for ivermectin in people and animals, at this time it is not officially approved for the prevention or treatment of COVID-19.

You should not take any medicine unless it has been prescribed to you by your health care provider and acquired from a legitimate source.

It is common for doctors to treat patients using off-label medications with a safe track record, especially in the context of a public health emergency for a disease with no known treatment.

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* The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors do not necessarily reflect the official position of Immedaite Rent. If you have any questions or comments please Contact Us Immediate Rent.

Immediate Rent Team has checked a few online stores, majority of them do not have Ivermectin, some have it, but it is not clear what brand and where the drug was actually made. We called a few local drugstores, none of them have Ivermectin or stromectol available. We also checked Amazon, no luck. Amazon does not show any results for both names. Made a call to Solvet and AVL, it went to an answering machine and no one call us back. Suggesting both companies were overwhelmed with calls from public.