The Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA) has recorded a surge in ivermectin, the cattle wormer, seizures over the last 12 months compared to the same period last year.

Between July 2020 and July 2021, the HPRA detained 4,958 units of ivermectin – up from just 156 units for the prior 12 months – a HPRA spokesperson told the Irish Farmers Journal.

The increase in seizures came as a result of people's belief that they could self-administer the drug to treat or prevent COVID-19.

Illegal or falsified

Ivermectin is not authorised for used for COVID-19 in the EU or US, with the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) both warning the public off using it.

“The HPRA notes the increase in detentions of ivermectin and urges members of the public not to buy products online which claim to cure or prevent COVID-19. While online vendors may claim that their products can prevent, cure or treat COVID-19, such products are likely to be illegal or falsified [fake] and could be harmful to your health,” the HPRA spokesperson said.

More information on the risks of buying products purported to prevent, cure or treat Covid-19 online is available on the HPRA website here.

In response to a query from the Irish Farmers Journal, the National Poisons Information Centre said it had received just two enquiries regarding the use of ivermectin to prevent or treat COVID-19 and both were from the same patient.

Not authorised for use

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

It stated that medicines containing ivermectin are not authorised for use against COVID-19 in the EU, and the EMA has not received any application for such use.