RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Researchers at Duke want to know if taking more ivermectin for longer will work better as a COVID-19 treatment.

A study that is testing three repurposed medications as COVID treatments is expanding to evaluate the polarizing anti-parasitic drug ivermectin at a higher dose for a longer period of time.

Dr. Adrian Hernandez, the executive director of the Duke Clinical Research Institute and the study’s administrative principal investigator, said modeling studies, published research and community interest “support investigating multiple doses and durations of ivermectin.”

“This expansion will provide valuable data on the role of ivermectin and whether it can help people with mild-to-moderate symptoms of COVID-19 prevent worsening of the disease,” he said.

Hernandez and other researchers at Duke are leading the national ACTIV-6 study that is testing how effective ivermectin and two other common drugs are against mild to moderate cases of COVID.

They are increasing the size of the dose by 50 percent and doubling the length of time, from three days to six.

The new dose — 600 micrograms per kilogram of body weight — is four times as much as the usual dose for treating river blindness in teenagers and adults, and three times the usual dose for a type of roundworm infection, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Ivermectin is used to treat parasitic infections, is not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat COVID-19 and should only be taken as part of a clinical trial, Duke Health said.

Even so, the drug has become popular among some conspiracy-minded vaccine opponents who believe it is a COVID cure, with some taking veterinary-strength doses of the drug.

Researchers say they have already filled their enrollment for ivermectin treatments at the lower dose.

The national, double-blind ACTIV-6 trial, being conducted in partnership with Vanderbilt University researchers, has more than 3,000 participants since it started last summer, so far with plans to enroll nearly 15,000. It isn’t expected to wrap up until March 2023.

It is also testing the effectiveness of the anti-depressant fluvoxamine and fluticasone furoate, an inhalant typically given to asthma patients with problems breathing.

People can enroll in the study by clicking this link, but they must meet three criteria:

— At least 30 years old.

— Have tested positive for COVID in the past 10 days.

— Have shown at least two symptoms for seven or fewer days.


CBS 17’s Joedy McCreary has been tracking COVID-19 figures since March 2020, compiling data from federal, state, and local sources to deliver a clear snapshot of what the coronavirus situation looks like now and what it could look like in the future.