In Depth On Ivermectin
Ivermectin is only FDA approved for treating river blindness, an epidemic disease in parts of Africa. Merck, the company who developed ivermectin, donates millions of doses every year to treat people for free. WHO (the World Health Organization) has done a lot of research on ivermectin. Click here to see their paper and then scroll down to section 2.3 "Observations in humans" to read their conclusions as to safety.
When doctors in the USA prescribe ivermectin for scabies that is called an "off-label" use. This is not unusual and it is generally legal. Once a drug has been FDA approved for one disease or use, a doctor can prescribe it for any other use they choose to. Read more about "off-label use" in Wikipedia here. Wikipedia says "Off-label use is generally legal unless it violates specific ethical guidelines or safety regulations, but it does carry health risks and differences in legal liability." In other words, if the doctor thinks it is unethical to prescribe ivermectin or that he might get sued for prescribing it, he probably won't. What is "normal" use of ivermectin for doctors varies widely in different parts of the world. A doctor was recently convicted for trading drug prescriptions for sex…that's an example of illegal off-label use!
Click here to read a great article entitled "Ivermectin, 'Wonder drug' from Japan". It was written by Professor Satoshi Omura, the man who discoverered ivermectin. That's a photo of him on the golf course where ivermectin was discovered (he's the guy on the left).
The fascinating article describes how it was discovered and is used. The author writes, "There are few drugs that can seriously lay claim to the title of "Wonder drug", penicillin and aspirin being two that have perhaps had greatest beneficial impact on the health and wellbeing of Mankind. But ivermectin can also be considered alongside those worthy contenders, based on its versatility, safety and the beneficial impact that it has had, and continues to have, worldwide especially on hundreds of millions of the world's poorest people."
Imagine that! He puts ivermectin up there with penicillin and aspirin in terms of safety.
Describing use with humans he states, "Ivermectin proved to be even more of a "Wonder drug" in human health, improving the nutrition, general health and wellbeing of billions of people worldwide ever since it was first used to treat Onchocerciasis [river blindness] in humans in 1988. It proved ideal in many ways, being highly effective and broad-spectrum, safe, well tolerated and could be easily administered (a single, annual oral dose)."
"billions of people" are taking ivermectin annually and the author reports it has been found to be safe. "billions of people" is a pretty big test group!
Now, of course that is people being given ivermectin pills. With animals he writes, "Today, ivermectin is being used to treat billions of livestock and pets around the world, helping to boost production of food and leather products, as well as keep billions of companion animals, particularly dogs and horses, healthy."
He goes on to write, "Ivermectin has continually proved to be astonishingly safe for human use. Indeed, it is such a safe drug, with minimal side effects, that it can be administered by non-medical staff and even illiterate individuals in remote rural communities, provided that they have had some very basic, appropriate training. This fact has helped contribute to the unsurpassed beneficial impact that the drug has had on human health and welfare around the globe, especially with regard to the campaign to fight Onchocerciasis [river blindness].
Today, ivermectin is being increasingly used worldwide to combat other diseases in humans, such as Strongyloidiasis (which infects some 35 million each year), scabies (which causes 300 million cases annually), Pediculosis, Gnathostomiasis and Myiasis — and new and promising properties and uses for ivermectin and other avermectin derivatives are continuing to be found."
Professor Satoshi Omura also writes, "Ivermectin swiftly became the drug of choice for the treatment of Onchocerciasis [river blindness] due to its unique and potent microfilaricidal [parasitic worms killing] effects, the absence of severe side effects and its excellent safety." (my underlining added)
If you are still curious and want to know more, there is a very readable article on the History of Ivermectin here. It explains the amazing and unlikely story of how how ivermectin was discovered and how Merck wound up giving away ivermectin for free. A pretty cool thing to do, especially considering how Big Pharma gets such bad press in general.
I hope all these references help you to decide if ivermectin is safe and effective and appropriate for treating humans with scabies. As I said earlier, the Healthy Skin Program from the CDC of Australia and the Royal Darwin Hospital suggests treating with both oral ivermectin AND a topical skin lotion (such as 5% permethrin cream, 10% sulfur lotion or Benzemul lotion).