Public urged not to buy drugs online after rise in horse dewormer seizures

Ivermectin being used by some to treat or prevent Covid-19, though evidence is scant

Almost 5,000 units of ivermectin were seized between July 2020 and July 2021, representing an increase of more than 3,000 per cent in a year. Photograph: Dimas Ardian/Bloomberg

Almost 5,000 units of ivermectin were seized between July 2020 and July 2021, representing an increase of more than 3,000 per cent in a year. Photograph: Dimas Ardian/Bloomberg

 

Members of the public have been urged not to purchase medicines online which claim to treat or prevent Covid-19, as a huge increase in seizures of horse dewormer has been recorded in Ireland.

The Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA) confirmed a report by TheJournal.ie that almost 5,000 units of the medication were seized between July 2020 and July 2021, representing an increase of more than 3,000 per cent in a year.

There were just 158 units seized in the previous 12 months.

Ivermectin is a veterinary medicine used mainly to treat horses. It won the Nobel Prize for medicine in 2015 for the discovery of its efficacy in treating certain parasitic infections in humans.

But evidence that the medicine works to treat Covid-19 is scant, and products bought online are “likely to be illegal or falsified (fake) and could be harmful” to people’s health, a spokeswoman for the HPRA said.

To date, the HPRA has not received any suspected adverse reaction reports associated with the use of ivermectin but a spokeswoman urged members of the public not to buy products online which claim to cure or prevent Covid-19, including ivermectin.

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) has reviewed available evidence on the use of the drug for the prevention and treatment of Covid-19 and concluded that the available data does not support its use for Covid-19 outside well-designed clinical trials.

Ivermectin-containing medicines are not authorised for use in Covid-19 in the EU, and the EMA has not received any application for such use, it has said.

The HPRA confirmed there has also been an increase in the number of Hydroxychloroquine medicines seized in Ireland, from 4,915 one year ago to 6,071 between July 2020 and July 2021. The medicine is used to treat malaria and autoimmune conditions.

Early on in the pandemic, hydroxychloroquine was suggested as a possible prevention method or treatment for Covid-19.

However, multiple high-quality studies subsequently showed no benefit of hydroxychloroquine use as a Covid-19 treatment, according to the Lancet.

More information about the risks of buying Covid-19 medicines online can be found on the HPRA website.