Ivermectin misinformation highlights flaws in how data is used in research, experts say

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Global demand for ivermectin has highlighted flaws in using non-transparent data to guide patient treatment, according to a Sept. 22 report published in Nature Medicine.

The report is authored by public health experts worldwide, including James Heathers, PhD, health IT researcher and chief scientific officer at Cipher Skin, and Gideon Meyerowitz-Katz, PhD, epidemiologist and a researcher at the Australia-based University of Wollongong.

Six things to know:

  1. The authors describe flaws in several reports that back the effectiveness of using ivermectin to treat COVID-19. In one study that represented more than 10 percent of the overall effect of the drug in two major meta-analyses, the authors point to several data irregularities that could not have been derived experimentally. The study has not been withdrawn by the preprint server it was hosted on.

  2. For several other studies, the authors raise concerns about inconsistencies in the data used in randomized controlled trials but have not been able to get access to the mega-data used in the reports.

  3. Another study that published meta-analysis of ivermectin to treat COVID-19 retracted their meta-analysis because it was based on the two studies whose data has been questioned.

  4. The authors said they anticipate several other COVID-19 studies supporting ivermectin to be withdrawn in the next few months.

  5. "Since the above primary studies were published, many hundreds of thousands of patients have been dosed with ivermectin, relying on an evidence base that has substantially evaporated under close scrutiny," the report said.

  6. The authors also said that clinical research shouldn't be several summary statistics, but instead a contribution toward a larger omnibus question.

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