Colombo, Sept 2 (DailyMirror) – Senior medical experts yesterday warned the public against the use of Ivermectin tablets which are being prescribed by some health consultants to prevent or fight the COVID-19 virus, saying a local study was presently underway to study this drug but it had not been approved.
According to doctors, Ivermectin is a tablet used to treat parasital infections, especially in animals and at times in humans suffering from some complicated parasital infections as well.
In recent days however, there have been increasing reports of people consuming the Ivermectin tablets, which is available in the market, following a request by some consultants to import the tablets into the country for the COVID-19 pandemic.
However leading health experts have urged people to prevent its usage till there was sufficient evidence to show that it could be used for the coronavirus.
The Daily Mirror is in possession of a letter sent to Dr Asela Gunawardena, DG of Health Services on August 20, 2021 by members of the Expert Committee appointed to prevent COVID-19 mortality, which stated that there is insufficient evidence to recommend for or against the use of Ivermectin, Hydroxychloroquine, vitamin D, Zinc and Vitamin C for COVID-19 patients in a clinical guideline at present.
The Expert Committee consists of 14 doctors including Dr Ananda Wijewickrema of the National Institute of Infectious Disease Hospital (IDH).
The letter said that if any clinician is using Ivermectin, it is strongly suggested to document the indication, disease status, side effects, outcomes and any other relevant details for each patient.
“There is also no evidence to recommend the use of any of the above medicines as prophylaxis for COVID-19. The committee will regularly review emerging evidence and revise these recommendations accordingly,” the Expert Committee informed the DG of Health.
When contacted, Dr Ananda Wijewickrema told Daily Mirror that still there was no evidence to say that the Ivermectin drug was effective to prevent getting the COVID-19 or as a treatment.
He said it had been used in some studies and even in Sri Lanka, there was a study ongoing on the Ivermectin, but presently no country was recommending it in their guidelines to show that Ivermectin should help prevent or fight the Covid-19.” Because not much evidence is available yet to show this, we cannot allow its usage,” Dr Ananda Wijewickrema said.
He said the Ivermectin is used in some countries widely for certain other diseases but in Sri Lanka it has not been used because Sri Lanka does not have those diseases.
Dr. Wijewickrema further said that people should also avoid using steroids including dexamethasone to treat COVID-19 as this was highly unnecessary and is used only on certain patients who require oxygen as it can cause serious problems if just used.
The Daily Mirror contacted several well-known pharmacies across Colombo to check if the Ivermectin tablet is available and all confirmed that it was available at a price of Rs.32 per tablet.
Internationally as well, leading health experts have spoken against the use of Ivermectin tablets stating that there was not much evidence available yet that it could prevent or fight the COVID-19.
While the local study also shows that there is not much evidence yet to show it can be used on COVID patients, some consultants however are calling for it to be used and said it can be prescribed by physicians.
It is questionable why the Health Ministry has not issued any statement saying to await evidence over its usage.