Why Hype Merck's Coronavirus Drug, But Dismiss Ivermectin?

By Pierre Kory

October 15, 2021

AP Photo/Mark Lennihan

In our fight against a global pandemic, we need all the weapons we can get. Merck’s announcement that it’s developing an antiviral pill to treat COVID is therefore welcome news. If molnupiravir is as effective as the drug maker claims, this early treatment option should make a big difference.

But in the hype over Merck’s new pill, we’re losing sight of the fact that we already have an effective, affordable treatment for COVID that is helping to control the pandemic in many regions of the world—ivermectin. I ask those urging the Food and Drug Administration to rush molnupiravir through the approval process: why not also support using ivermectin to help patients right now?

Ivermectin is a pill originally developed to treat parasitic infections, and it also has demonstrated anti-viral properties. Merck manufactures ivermectin, but its patents have expired and it can’t generate much revenue. That may explain why in February the company issued an unprecedented public