Ivermectin is a medication used to treat parasite infestations. In humans, these include head lice, scabies, river blindness (onchocerciasis), strongyloidiasis, trichuriasis, ascariasis, and lymphatic filariasis. In veterinary medicine, it is used to prevent and treat heartworm and acariasis, among other indications. It can be taken by mouth or applied to the skin for external infestations. It belongs to the avermectin family of medications. It works through many mechanisms of action that result in death of the targeted parasites.
Ivermectin was discovered in 1975 and came into medical use in 1981. In 2015, William Campbell and Satoshi Ōmura won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for its discovery and applications. It is on the World Health Organization's List of Essential Medicines. Ivermectin is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as an antiparasitic agent. In 2018, it was the 420th most commonly prescribed medication in the United States, with more than one hundred thousand prescriptions. The medication is also being researched as a way to treat or prevent tropical diseases including yellow fever and malaria.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, misinformation has been widely spread claiming that ivermectin is beneficial for treating and preventing COVID-19. Such claims are not backed by credible scientific evidence. Research into its use is ongoing, and multiple major health organizations, including the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, U.S. Centers for Disease Control, the European Medicines Agency (EMA), and the World Health Organization have issued statements stating that ivermectin is not authorized or approved to treat COVID-19.