Cheap lice drug claims potential treatment vs Covid-19

January 20, 2021
Cheap lice drug claims potential treatment vs Covid-19

For as low as £1.50 per treatment, this lice treatment drug  may be used to  help Covid-19 patients, according to a Dr Andrew Hill, who led the research on the potential of Ivermectin in treating Covid-19 patients. Ivermectin was discovered in the 1970s and has fast become an essential medicine for a vast number of parasitic infections, such as head lice and scabies.

Hill, a virologist from Liverpool University behind the analysis, claimed the drug could be ‘transformational’ in the battle against the virus. A study suggests that Ivermectin, a prescription-only drug for treating head lice could potentially cut the risk of death for hospitalized Covid-19 patients by up to 80%. But other scientists were skeptical of the finding, saying more data would be needed before it could be used as a potential treatment. They pointed out other drugs, such as hydroxychloroquine and tocilizumab, showed great promise in early trials only for scientists to discover they had no benefit. 

Results from 11 studies suggest Ivermectin could help protect coronavirus patients. They also suggested the drug could speed up the removal of the virus from the body.

The Egyptian study involved 100 patients with moderate symptoms who got the drug and 100 with severe symptoms who got the drug. The same number was used for the control group. In the Bangladesh study 72 Covid-19 patients were involved.

Read: Ivermectin under scrutiny as possible COVID-19 treatment

It is branded as Stromectol, an oral tablet for scabies and Soolantra, a skin cream for rosacea. It is branded as Sklice for treating head lice, which was approved in the US this year. 

Today it is prescribed on the NHS and in the US for these conditions, but some scientists argue it could also be useful against Covid-19.  

Scientists investigating the drug believe it works by paralyzing the SARS-CoV-2 virus and ‘overwhelming its nervous system’, to prevent it from replicating.  The researchers combined results from 11 trials of the drug involving more than 1,400 patients.

This revealed only eight Covid-19 patients out of 573 who received the drug died, compared to the 44 out of the 510 who received a placebo. The time taken to get rid of the virus from the body was also faster when Ivermectin was taken, two studies included in the research suggested.

In a trial in Egypt, 100 patients with mild symptoms cleared the virus within five days, on average, when they got the drug. For comparison, the figure stood at around 10 days for 100 patients who did not receive the drug.

And in 100 patients battling severe symptoms, they removed Covid within six days when they got the drug, on average, compared to 12 days for the 100 control patients. Similar results were also seen in a study carried out in Bangladesh. 

The studies were carried out mainly in developing countries – including Bangladesh, Argentina, and Egypt – and the research was commissioned by the World Health Organization (WHO).

Patients received doses of Ivermectin between 0.2 to 0.6mg/kg, but in one study, they got as much as 12mg. Early analysis suggests the drug may help patients suffering from the virus, but scientists have cautioned against these conclusions as yet.

The studies compared using different dose amounts of Ivermectin, time spans and differed in how they treated their control groups.

Side-effects from the drug include swelling of the feet, constipation and inflammation in the eye.

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Category: Features, Pharmaceuticals

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