Almost 5,000 units of the controversial drug Ivermectin, which has been promoted by anti-vaxxers as a treatment for COVID-19, have been seized in Ireland over 12 months of the pandemic.
According to The Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA), 4,958 units of the drug were seized between July 2020 and July 2021. Only 158 units were seized in the preceding 12 month period.
Ivermectin is mostly used in Ireland by veterinarians in the treatment of horses, as it acts as a dewormer, but can be used to treat various other animals. Variations of the drug have been licensed for human treatment, however there is no proof that Ivermectin has any effect in the treatment of COVID-19. Various health agencies have conducted studies into its effectiveness against COVID and found no evidence to support its use.
That hasn't stopped many in the anti-vaxx community from latching onto the drug, with YouTubers like Alex Jones encouraging its use. Some Irish users have been importing it on the black market.
"Ivermectin is not an approved treatment for Covid-19 in Ireland or anywhere and while small studies have been done, none suggested that this agent will have any benefit," a HSE spokesperson said.
A spokesperson for the HPRA warned the public to avoid purchasing purported COVID-19 treatments online.
"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," they said.