Written answers

Wednesday, 24 March 2021

Photo of Matt ShanahanMatt Shanahan (Waterford, Independent)
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1357. To ask the Minister for Health if his Department or HIQA have examined the possibly introducing Ivermectin as a possible Covid-19 treatment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14047/21]

Photo of Stephen DonnellyStephen Donnelly (Wicklow, Fianna Fail)
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The Deputy is advised that, at the request of the NPHET, the HIQA conducted a rapid evidence review to identify studies on the effectiveness of (i) pharmaceutical and (ii) non-pharmaceutical interventions, in the ambulatory setting, aimed at reducing progression to severe disease in individuals with confirmed or suspected COVID-19. This evidence review included a review of relevant studies in relation to Ivermectin.

Low certainty or very low certainty evidence was identified in relation to a small number of interventions. However, the HIQA noted the low quality of the evidence available including the high risk of bias, small sample sizes and short durations of follow-up different trials and advised that results from these studies should not be used to inform decision-making with respect to effectiveness.

The HIQA’s overall finding was that there is currently insufficient evidence of either effectiveness or safety to support the use of any pharmaceutical intervention in the community setting to reduce the risk of progression to severe disease in patients who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 unless as part of an ongoing monitored clinical trial. Furthermore, no evidence was identified for the effectiveness or safety of any non-pharmaceutical intervention in the community setting. 

As confirmed by the HIQA’s COVID-19 Expert Advisory Group: (), evidence regarding the effectiveness of pharmaceutical treatments intended for systemic use, must be subject to the highest standards of rigour. Where a pharmaceutical intervention is recommended in the absence of appropriate supportive evidence, there is a significant potential for harm to the patient. Whereas this risk of harm may be justified in certain circumstances (e.g. the intervention poses minimal risk, or the setting involves patients with high potential to gain due to almost certain risk of severe adverse consequences in absence of any intervention) this is less likely to be the case in the setting of mild disease, where a great number of otherwise well patients would potentially receive the intervention.

The HIQA has also advised my Department that several international health technology assessment or guideline development organisations have specifically reviewed the evidence to date on ivermectin in COVID-19 and have cautioned or advised against the use of ivermectin outside the setting of clinical trials on the basis of the current evidence. The HIQA has also advised that the pharmaceutical company MSD (Merck, USA), which holds a license in the USA for the use of ivermectin as an antiparasitic agent, on 4th February 2021 published a statement including the following:

“It is important to note that, to-date, our analysis has identified:

- No scientific basis for a potential therapeutic effect against COVID-19 from pre-clinical studies;

- No meaningful evidence for clinical activity or clinical efficacy in patients with COVID-19 disease, and;

- A concerning lack of safety data in the majority of studies.

We do not believe that the data available support the safety and efficacy of ivermectin beyond the doses and populations indicated in the regulatory agency-approved prescribing information.”

I trust that the above information satisfactorily addresses your question.


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