Researchers from what is known as the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) COVID-19 Response Team based in Atlanta, Georgia, sought out to answer the question whether outpatient retail dispensing frequency of various treatments for COVID-19 grew in volume since the onset of the pandemic denoted by the declaration of a national emergency on March 13, 2020. Using the IQVIA National Prescription Audit Weekly nationally prescription data taken from U.S. retail pharmacies covering 17 potential COVID-19 treatments as identified by the National institutes of Health COVID-19 Treatment Guidelines, as well as the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists Assessment of Evidence for COVID-19 Related Treatments, the authors found some interesting trends. For example, coinciding with what many perceived as hype around hydroxychloroquine dispensing of that drug peaked during March 20, 2020. While few correlated ivermectin with COVID-19 after the University of Monash lab findings in April, various small studies commenced primarily in low to middle income countries (LMICs), which led to growing demand in the U.S. peaking initially during the week of July 24 and again spiking during the second cold season wave through December 18, the cut-off point of this study. Zinc-based dispensing peaked both at the end of April 10 and August 7, rising again during the second cold season wave by December 11th. Dexamethasone increased 50% over the baseline pre-pandemic amounts through December 18. The net takeaway here is that while physicians stopped prescribing hydroxychloroquine, the use of ivermectin, zinc and dexamethasone has increased.
The results of this interesting study, funded by the CDC, are found in JAMA Internal Medicine.
Ivermectin Prescription Growth
Of interest, while the National Institutes of Health COVID-19 Treatment Guidelines Panel didn’t recommend ivermectin for COVID-19 clinical care, (only for research), they changed their position after learning of a number of clinical trials associated with that drug used to treat parasitic-based conditions to not recommend for nor against till further data materializes. The growth of ivermectin dispensing, along with zinc and dexamethasone for the treatment of SARS-CoV-2 infection, the virus behind COVID-19 coincided with the increase in actual coronavirus cases starting in July and again in the fall continuing into December.
Andrew I. Geller, MD, Medical Officer
Maribeth C. Lovegrove, MPH
Jennifer N Lind, PharmD, MPH
S. Deblina Datta, MD
Daniel S. Budnitz, MD, MPH