A Texas university clinical trial is examining the effectiveness of ivermectin in fighting against COVID-19 symptoms, with hopes of determining if the controversial drug can be a helpful tool in combating the pandemic.
The National Institutes of Health granted Texas Tech University's Health Sciences Center El Paso $1.7 million to spearhead clinical trials that include two projects: ACTIV-6, a nationwide study that includes ivermectin, and a local initiative planned by the university, The Washington Post reported Thursday.
The ACTIV-6 study, which started June 8, is examining the effectiveness of three drugs, including ivermectin, the antiparasitic medication that has sparked controversy in the U.S. over some unauthorized use to treat the coronavirus.
While ivermectin is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat humans for parasitic worms, lice and skin conditions including rosacea, it is more often used to help animals, including cattle and horses.
The study is also examining fluvoxamine, a drug that has been prescribed for depression, and fluticasone, a steroid that is sometimes used to treat asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, according to the Post.
The project, which is being led by the Duke Clinical Research Institute, aims to evaluate the effectiveness of repurposed medications in reducing COVID-19 symptoms in non-hospitalized patients who are experiencing mild to moderate illness.
Edward Michelson, the chairman of the Texas university’s Department of Emergency Medicine, told the Post that the results of the school's study are needed right away.
“Usually treatments for diseases take many years to develop, and everything we’re doing is on a fast track because people need it now,” Michelson said.
He also said the project will “hopefully put the debate to rest” regarding ivermectin’s effectiveness, and shine light on the proper ways to use the drug.
“People like Dr. Google, and they don’t really know how to safely take ivermectin,” Michelson told the Post. “Some people are probably overdosing. With this trial, we will give them the appropriate number of pills so that the amount of drug is appropriate for their individual weight.”
The debate over ivermectin and its effectiveness in treating COVID-19 sparked after the FDA in August warned against using the drug at home following reports that some coronavirus patients were treating themselves with the drug.