No, the National Institutes of Health didn’t approve ivermectin as a COVID-19 treatment

The NIH did not add the controversial anti-parasitic drug ivermectin to its approved COVID-19 treatment list. Social posts claiming otherwise are false.

The use of the anti-parasitic drug ivermectin has been a source of controversy since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic when celebrities and popular influencers began touting the effectiveness of using ivermectin to treat the coronavirus, despite a lack of evidence to support the claims. 

People on social media are now sharing a screenshot of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) website, claiming the medical research agency has added ivermectin to its list of approved treatments for COVID-19. 

One of the Facebook posts with the screenshot of the website says: “The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has quietly added ivermectin to their list of antiviral therapies for their COVID-19 treatment guidelines.”

A tweet with more than 17,000 retweets said: “Suddenly Ivermectin shows up on the NIH website for treating Covid. After years of denial, blocking, interference, villification [sic], ruining social media accounts, killing people, etc. they silently add it to their antiviral protocol.” Another tweet with 700 likes asks: "Ivermectin is now on the list of approved treatments for Covid by the NIH?" 

THE QUESTION

Did the NIH add ivermectin to its list of antiviral therapies approved to treat COVID-19?

THE SOURCES

THE ANSWER

This is false.

No, the NIH didn’t add ivermectin to its list of antiviral therapies approved to treat COVID-19. The federal agency continues to recommend against using the drug to treat COVID-19. 

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WHAT WE FOUND

The screenshots being shared of the NIH website are real, but they do not show that the NIH approved ivermectin as a COVID-19 treatment. People on social media are sharing the screen shots out of context. 

The screenshots show a list of antiviral medications that have been evaluated by a NIH panel, and when someone clicks on the name of a drug, it redirects to a page that has information on whether they work or not to treat COVID-19. 

The NIH panel was formed to answer questions about various treatments of COVID-19 and provide physicians and the public with guidance on what drugs someone should or shouldn’t take to treat the coronavirus.

The NIH told VERIFY ivermectin has been listed on their treatment guidelines page for some time – the site was last updated in April – and the NIH COVID-19 Treatment Guidelines panel recommends against the use of ivermectin for the treatment of COVID-19.

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Ivermectin is included in the list so people can easily see the results of studies on the drug’s efficacy, the drug’s side effects and so the NIH can urge people to not take it to treat COVID.

“Although there have been many ivermectin studies, only a few trials have been adequately powered, well-designed, and well-conducted. More recent clinical trials address the limitations of earlier studies but fail to show clear evidence that ivermectin reduces time to recovery or prevents COVID-19 disease progression,” the NIH says

“For this reason, and because several medications now have demonstrated clinical benefit for the treatment of COVID-19, the Panel recommends against the use of ivermectin for the treatment of COVID-19, except in a clinical trial … Additional adequately powered, well-designed, and well-conducted trials are needed to evaluate the effect of ivermectin on COVID-19,” the NIH says.

Ivermectin is approved by the FDA for human use to treat infections caused by some parasitic worms and head lice and skin conditions like rosacea. Some forms of animal ivermectin are approved to prevent heartworm disease and treat certain internal and external parasites.

For a list of approved COVID-19 treatments, the Department of Health and Human Services has a list here

As always, if you have questions, consult your physician. 

RELATED: The FDA has only fully approved one drug for treating COVID-19, and it’s not ivermectin

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