Coronavirus: Royal NZ College of GPs speaks out against Ivermectin, says it's 'strongly not recommended' as COVID-19 treatment

The Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners (RNZCGP) has spoken out against the use of Ivermectin as a COVID-19 treatment, labelling it "untested and unapproved" and urging the public to be smart about misinformation.

It comes after a Newshub investigation revealed a major increase in demand and interest in Ivermectin - a deworming medicine usually used on farm animals - compared to the same time last year.

It also comes just over a week after a Sydney man was rushed to hospital with explosive diarrhea and vomiting, having taken a cocktail of Ivermectin and other supposed 'miracle drugs' after contracting coronavirus.

It later emerged he had bought the medications online after becoming convinced of their effectiveness at treating COVID-19. 

Dr Bryan Betty, RNZCGP medical director, says the spread of misinformation around Ivermectin is "frustrating and can be highly dangerous".

"The use of Ivermectin for the treatment of COVID-19 is being researched through clinical trials but it is very important to note that at this point there is no evidence that supports the use of this medicine in the treatment of COVID-19," he said.

"Simply put, off-label use of Ivermectin for the treatment of COVID-19 is strongly not recommended."

There have been reports of some patients left "very unhappy" because their GP won't prescribe them Ivermectin to treat COVID-19, which Dr Betty insists is the right call.

"GPs are medical specialists and have an understanding of medications and their effect. Trust us."

Like the RNZCGP, Medsafe too has warned against its use, saying it can cause low blood pressure, worsening asthma, and autoimmune disorders.

The RNZCGP says the most reliable way for Kiwis to protect themselves and their whānau against COVID-19 is through vaccination.

Despite a lack of evidence of its efficacy, Ivermectin continues to surge in popularity overseas - particularly in the United States, where the Food and Drug Administration has had to urge people to stop using it following a spate of hospitalisations.

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