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Ivermectin a useful drug, just not for COVID: Alberta Health Services

Last Updated Oct 12, 2021 at 12:02 pm MST

Stock image of the deworming medication Ivermectin.

EDMONTON – Ivermectin is useful, but not for treating COVID-19, Alberta Health Services (AHS) says in a new open letter.

The pandemic has been long and tiresome, and we all need and want effective therapies to prevent more suffering, the health agency writes.

Unfortunately, an epidemic of misinformation has emerged around which medications are, and aren’t, effective.

“There are several effective medications Alberta Health Services (AHS) is using to treat COVID-19 in hospitalized patients, but ivermectin is not one of them. To suggest that AHS is withholding life-saving treatment by not supporting the use of ivermectin in the treatment of COVID-19 is wrong,” said AHS in its letter.

“Claims that either the veterinary or human form of the drug is a life-saving medication against COVID-19 are not supported by current research. If there was good evidence for its use against this virus, AHS would absolutely be using it to help patients and reduce the burden on our healthcare system.”


AHS says because there is no evidence to back claims that ivermectin is an effective guard against COVID-19, it should not be used as treatment, not even as a “just in case” measure.

“Although some early studies into the use of ivermectin against COVID-19 suggested possible benefit, none of the recent high-quality trials where results have been reviewed and assessed have supported these findings. There are genuine concerns of fraudulent data being reported from some of the early trials, and the largest trial that supported ivermectin use has already been withdrawn as a result of data fraud,” AHS said.

AHS says its Scientific Advisory Group has reviewed the lacking studies on ivermectin and has concluded that it shouldn’t be used.

“There is no high-quality evidence that ivermectin is effective against COVID-19.”


Health Canada, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, along with several other health organizations have all warned against using the drug, of which there is also a horse dewormer version, for COVID-19.

“Neither the veterinary nor human drug versions of ivermectin have been deemed safe or effective for use in treating or preventing COVID-19. Even the drug manufacturer has issued a statement that ivermectin should not be used for COVID-19,” AHS wrote.

The health authority says that while there are no known benefits for using ivermectin, there are known risks and harmful side effects.

“Ivermectin use has been associated with rash, nausea, vomiting, low blood pressure, abdominal pain, tremors, seizures and severe hepatitis (liver disease) requiring hospitalization. Further, the use of veterinary versions of ivermectin is risky because they may contain ingredients not used in medications for humans, and are meant for use in much larger animals like horses and cattle. Ingestion of large amounts of veterinary ivermectin can cause poisoning and even lead to death.”


With more people falling for the misinformation online and trying to buy the drug to fight the virus, AHS says there are now shortages of the drug, meaning it is not available to treat those with parasitic diseases–what the human version is meant to be used for.

AHS is cautioning people to be hyper-critical of scientific-sounding videos and articles circulating through social media as conspiracy theories are playing off of pandemic anxiety.

“This pandemic of misinformation is eroding public confidence in effective medical treatments and in the healthcare system to the point of endangering lives.”

Vaccination is the best bet to stay safe from COVID-19, AHS says.