Ivermectin not authorized to prevent or treat COVID-19; may cause serious health problems

Starting date:
August 31, 2021
Posting date:
August 31, 2021
Type of communication:
Advisory
Subcategory:
Veterinary Drugs
Source of recall:
Health Canada
Issue:
Unauthorized products, Important Safety Information
Audience:
General Public, Healthcare Professionals
Identification number:
RA-76365

Last updated:

Summary

  • Product: Ivermectin (veterinary or human versions), an antiparasitic agent (tablets, paste, oral solution, injectable solution, medicated premix or topical).
  • Issue: Consumers, are purchasing veterinary ivermectin to prevent or treat COVID-19.
  • What to do: Do not use veterinary ivermectin for the prevention or treatment of COVID-19. If you have purchased ivermectin for this purpose, discard it immediately. Consult a healthcare professional if you have used this product and have health concerns.

Issue

Health Canada has received concerning reports of the use of veterinary ivermectin to prevent or treat COVID-19. Canadians should never consume health products intended for animals because of the potential serious health dangers posed by them.

In this light, Health Canada is advising Canadians not to use either the veterinary or human drug versions of Ivermectin to prevent or treat COVID-19. There is no evidence that ivermectin in either formulation is safe or effective when used for those purposes. The human version of ivermectin is authorized for sale in Canada only for the treatment of parasitic worm infections in people.

The veterinary version of ivermectin, especially at high doses, can be dangerous for humans and may cause serious health problems such as vomiting, diarrhea, low blood pressure, allergic reactions, dizziness, seizures, coma and even death. Ivermectin products for animals have a higher concentrated dose than ivermectin products for people.

The Department is aware of multiple reports of patients in the U.S. who have required medical support and been hospitalized after using ivermectin intended for horses.

Health Canada is closely monitoring all potential therapeutic treatments for COVID-19, including treatments being studied in international clinical trials. To date, Health Canada has not received any drug submission or clinical trial application for ivermectin for the prevention or treatment of COVID-19.

For drugs that have the potential to be helpful in treating COVID-19, Health Canada encourages drug manufacturers to conduct clinical trials. This would provide an opportunity for the healthcare community to collect information on the effectiveness of the treatment and its associated risks.

Should a manufacturer provide a submission to Health Canada related to the use of ivermectin to prevent or treat COVID-19, Health Canada would conduct a scientific evaluation of the evidence to determine the drug's quality, safety and effectiveness.

Health Canada will continue to monitor the situation and will take appropriate and timely action should new information become available, including any information regarding the illegal advertising or sale of ivermectin. Health Canada will also communicate any new safety information to healthcare professionals and consumers.

Health Canada has previously warned Canadians about products making false and misleading claims to treat or cure COVID-19. For information on Health Canada authorized vaccines and treatments, visit Canada.ca.

Background

Ivermectin, a prescription drug product, is authorized for sale in Canada for the treatment of parasitic worm infections in humans, specifically intestinal strongyloidiasis and onchocerciasis, and should only be used for this purpose, under the supervision of a healthcare professional. A veterinary version of this medication is available to treat parasitic infections in animals. People should never use the veterinary version of this product.

What you should do

  • If you have purchased ivermectin for the prevention or treatment of COVID-19, stop using it and discard it:
    • Follow municipal or regional guidelines on how to dispose of chemicals and other hazardous waste; or
    • Return the product to the point of sale for proper disposal.
  • Consult a healthcare professional if you have used ivermectin and have health concerns.
  • Report any side effects from this product directly to Health Canada.
  • Submit a complaint to Health Canada should you have any information regarding the illegal advertising or sale of ivermectin or any other health product using its online complaint form.

Media enquiries

Health Canada
(613) 957-2983
media@hc-sc.gc.ca

Public enquiries

(613) 957-2991
1-866 225-0709
hcinfo.infosc@canada.ca