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BMRC approves clinical trial of ivermectin and doxycycline for Covid-19 treatment

  • Published at 09:42 pm July 29th, 2020
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The clinical trial will start from August 3

The Bangladesh Medical and Research Council (BMRC) has approved conducting a clinical trial of a combination of anti-parasitic drug ivermectin and antibiotic doxycycline to treat Covid-19 patients.

The trial will be conducted on 150 coronavirus patients with mild symptoms at two hospitals --- Bangladesh Medical College (BMC) and Uttara Adhunik Medical College Hospital (UAMCH) --- in the capital from August 3.

BMRC approved the clinical trial on July 28. A 20-member team led by Professor Dr Tarek Alam, principal investigator, will conduct the trial while Dr Rubauil Morshed from Somman Foundation is the co-investigator of the trial team.

The clinical trial will continue for two months and will be supervised by BMC and BMRC will be kept updated on the progress of the trial. The BMC team received the papers of approval on Wednesday, a source at the BMRC told Dhaka Tribune.

The medical team conducting the trial will hold a press conference after Eid-ul-Azha to announce the developments.

According to sources, once the drug combination is proved to be effective, it will be named as “People’s Medicine” and will be available in the market for Tk40 only.

Ivermectin is a medication used to treat many types of parasitic infestations. It can be taken orally or applied to the skin for external infestation. Doxycycline is used to treat many different bacterial infections, including respiratory infections.

BMC had submitted the protocol to BMRC in June.

Dr Tarek claimed that applying doxycycline with a single dose of ivermectin reduced a patient's symptoms by 50% in just three days, and they were completely virus-free within the next four days. Covid-19 tests of these patients came out negative within four to fourteen days.

Since April 12, BMC has applied the two-drug combination on 200 patients and found it to be a success. Dr Tarek said the two-drug combination could kill coronavirus in just 48 hours.

Recently, around 1,200 patients with mild Covid-19 symptoms recovered at Central Police Hospital (CPH) after using this combination.

“If we had applied for this treatment earlier, we would have not lost so many lives in the country,” Dr Tarek added.

How does it work?

The combination works by causing the parasite's cell membrane to increase in permeability, resulting in paralysis and death of the parasite.

It directly works like an anti-virus, but a doctor’s opinion and prescription are needed before it can be used, Dr Tarek said.

How effective is it?

Dr Tarek told Dhaka Tribune that the combination was found to be more effective within the first seven days of visible symptoms.

“If we want to see its effect on critically ill patients on oxygen support, we need to run clinical trials.”

Earlier, a study on ivermectin was conducted by a research team from Monash University in Australia and yielded positive results.

On April 3 this year, the journal "Antiviral Research" said infecting the Vero-hSLAM cell line with the novel coronavirus and applying ivermectin reduced the amount of virus in the cell line by up to 5,000 times in 48 hours.

On June 9, a US clinical trial of the drug ivermectin found that it reduced the mortality rate of Covid-19 patients by 40%. The study was published in medRxiv and was led by Dr Jean-Jacques Rajter, a physician at Broward Health Medical Centre.

The BMC team leader claimed that no special side effects of the medication had been found so far.

“Ivermectin is very widely used and seen as a safe medicine. Scientists and researchers have said ivermectin is an approved anti-parasitic drug that has also been effective against a broad range of viruses, including HIV, dengue, influenza and the zika virus.”