US drugmaker Merck warns against using its anti-parasite drug to treat coronavirus

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Drugmaker Merck & Co Inc on Thursday said its analysis of available data does not support the safety and efficacy of its anti-parasite drug, ivermectin, for the treatment of COVID-19.

Ivermectin, which is approved in the United States under the brand name Stromectol, is used mainly to treat roundworms, threadworms and other parasites.

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Officials in the Bolivian city of Trinidad had launched a campaign in May last year to give out free doses of ivermectin to combat the novel coronavirus, although the South American country's health ministry noted the lack of evidence for it as a treatment for COVID-19.

The company said its analysis of existing and emerging studies of ivermectin to treat COVID-19 found no scientific basis for a potential therapeutic effect against the respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

Merck added that there was a concerning lack of safety data in the majority of studies testing ivermectin to treat COVID-19 and cautioned against the use of the drug beyond its use as an anti-parasitic.

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