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Oxford University to study antiparasitic drug ivermectin in COVID-19 trial

The potential COVID-19 treatment will be investigated as part of the large-scale PRINCIPLE trial

Researchers from the University of Oxford are planning to investigate the antiparasitic drug ivermectin as part of the PRINCIPLE trial – a large-scale clinical trial evaluating possible at-home COVID-19 treatments.

In lab studies, ivermectin has been shown to reduce SARS-CoV-2 replication, with small pilot studies also showing that early administration of the drug can reduce viral load and the duration of symptoms for some patients with mild COVID-19.

Ivermectin is already widely used globally to treat a number of parasitic infections and although the World Health Organization (WHO) and the European Medicines Agency (EMA) have not recommended its use in patients with COVID-19, it is still used to treat the infection in some countries across the globe.

In a statement, Oxford University said that there is currently little evidence from large-scale randomised controlled trials to determine if ivermectin can improve recovery times from COVID-19 and reduce hospitalisation.

To determine if ivermectin can be beneficial in treating COVID-19, participants in the PRINCIPLE trial will be randomly assigned to receive a three-day course of oral ivermectin treatment.

Participants will be followed up for 28 days, at which point they will be compared with individuals who were assigned to receive the usual standard of NHS care only.

“Ivermectin is readily available globally and has been in wide use for many other infectious conditions, so it’s a well-known medicine with a good safety profile and because of the early promising results in some studies it is already being widely used to treat COVID-19 in several countries,” said Chris Butler, joint chief investigator of the PRINCIPLE trial.

“By including ivermectin in a large-scale trial like PRINCIPLE, we hope to generate robust evidence to determine how effective the treatment is against COVID-19, and whether there are benefits or harms associated with its use,” he added.

In April, PRINCIPLE trial researchers found the inhaled asthma medication budesonide can shorten recovery time when administered early to high-risk COVID-19 patients.

The results showed that the estimated time to self-reported recovery for inhaled budesonide was three days shorter compared to the usual care group.

In addition, 32% of those receiving inhaled budesonide recovered within 14 days and remained well at 28 days compared to 22% in the usual care group.

Earlier this year, the antiviral treatment favipiravir was also added to the PRINCIPLE trial as a possible at-home therapy for COVID-19.

Article by
Lucy Parsons

23rd June 2021

From: Research

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