Against Authority: The Bioethics of Ivermectin Use for COVID-19 Infection

Link to article at PubMed

Am J Ther. 2023 Apr 17. doi: 10.1097/MJT.0000000000001629. Online ahead of print.


BACKGROUND: The COVID-19 pandemic has brought new ethical challenges to both health care professionals and the general public. Among the ethical problems amplified during this period were the making of medical decisions to quickly introduce some drugs into therapeutic practice with unproven or insufficiently proven effects (such as ivermectin), the validity of drug testing, and the allocation of limited resources.

FIELDS OF UNCERTAINTY: The COVID-19 pandemic brought to the attention of the entire scientific world a new problem, which exceeded the guidelines and rules known until then. Out of the desire to quickly solve this medical problem, a series of measures were taken, however not sufficiently validated in scientific terms; the recommendations regarding the use of drugs known for their properties to treat a greater number of conditions, such as ivermectin, was tried.

DATA SOURCES: A narrative review of the specialized literature was carried out using keywords such as COVID-19, ivermectin, ethics, and off-label medication from Scopus and Google Scholar but also of official documents developed at the international level (World Health Organization).

ETHICS AND THERAPEUTIC ADVANCES: The off-label use of ivermectin alone or in combination with other medications during COVID pandemic raised problems related to the demonstration of its effectiveness, but also to ethics, starting from the expectations that both the medical staff and the population had of it. Ivermectin therapy was also evaluated by analyzing the behavior of ivermectin based on ethical principles (nonmaleficence, beneficence, and respect for one's autonomy) or on justice. Even in times of pandemic, exceptionalism must not triumph, and finding an effective treatment must be done through studies that respect ethical standard.

CONCLUSIONS: The failures or rather lack of success in decision making during the pandemic showed that alongside scientific knowledge and the development of health policies, it is necessary to constantly evaluate the measures and decisions from an ethical point of view, and the prevention of slippages and abuses is not only necessary but even mandatory.

PMID:37068020 | DOI:10.1097/MJT.0000000000001629

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