WHY THERE’S NEED TO STANDARDISE USE OF IVERMECTIN FOR CORONAVIRUS, EXPERTS SPEAK OUT

Adebayo Folorunsho-Francis

Health professionals say that, as of now, there is no standardised or accurate dosing for ivermectin in the management of COVID-19.

This, they say, is because the drug was not designed ab initio for the treatment of the contagion that has infected over 100 million people globally.

They also expressed concerns that the demand for ivermectin in COVID-19 management may lead to gradual counterfeiting of the medication.

Ivermectin is a medication used to treat many types of parasitic infestations, including head lice. It has also been used widely in sub-Saharan Africa since the 1990s to treat river blindness.

The COVID-19 pandemic has, however, prompted a surge in demand for the drug after physicians say it was effective in the management of the coronavirus infection.

The surge in ivermectin demand has made stakeholders in the health sector to caution against the misuse of the medication.

Speaking with PUNCH HealthWise, Director-General of the Nigerian Institute of Medical Research, Prof. Babatunde Salako, said that procuring ivermectin over the counter without a prescription is relatively easy.

“There is hardly anything you can’t buy over the counter in Nigeria, especially in this age of social media. It is like what happened when we started using chloroquine, which was relatively cheap. Later, it became very costly and people were alarmed. At a point, we couldn’t even find it to buy again in the market.

“This is why I think we should be wary of fake ivermectin now. Because it is in demand, people will want to make fast money. They will just be producing it direct and people will rush to use it, obvlivious that there might be no molecule of ivermectin in it.

“Those are the dangers of the situation confronting us now,” he said.

Recall that the National Chairman of the Association of Community Pharmacists of Nigeria, Dr. Samuel Adekola, had told PUNCH HealthWise thatthe association was trying to proffer solution to the challenge of ivermectin misuse  by working with the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control.

He said it was important to put the medication strictly under control before product counterfeiters storm the pharmaceutical market with its substandard version.

“What we can also do at this stage is to guard against abuse. Right now, there is no standardised or accurate dosing for ivermectin in the management of COVID-19 because it was not designed ab initio for that purpose.

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