Amazon alerts users to an anti-parasitic drug that is falsely claimed to be a treatment for Covid-19.
The drug called ivermectin is typically used to treat or prevent parasites in animals. In the past few weeks, it has become the latest false cure for Covid-19, leading to warnings from the Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
When CNBC searched for the term “iv” on Amazon, the site’s auto-complete feature suggested a range of ivermectin products, including “ivermectin pills”, “ivermectin paste” and “ivermectin injectable”. The auto-completed search results are a sign that enough people have searched for “ivermectin” that Amazon’s search algorithm has been automatically trained to put it at the top of the suggested results.
When CNBC searched for the term “iv” on Amazon, the site’s auto-complete feature suggested a range of ivermectin products, including “ivermectin pills”, “ivermectin paste” and “ivermectin injectable”.
User reviews on some of the products seemed to reference false claims that ivermectin was a treatment for Covid-19. One review read, “Yes, I used it for this. Two cans, all gone. This stuff absolutely works. The rumors are true.”
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On a separate ivermectin list, a reviewer gave dosage instructions and added a link to a website promoting Covid misinformation, including the fact that ivermectin is “safe and effective” for treating Covid-19.
Amazon spokesman Craig Andrews told CNBC in a statement: “Amazon’s auto-completion responses are driven by customer activity. We’re blocking certain auto-complete responses to address these concerns. “
A few hours after posting this story, Amazon added a note to the search for “Ivermectin for Humans” stating that the FDA advised against using ivermectin to treat or prevent Covid-19. It directs users to visit the FDA website for more information.
The same clue appears when searching for “Vermectin covid”.
Ivermectin can be used by humans in small doses to treat parasites such as head lice, but it is most commonly used by veterinarians to de-worm large animals. Although it has been called a “miracle cure” for treating some parasitic diseases, it has not been shown to be effective against Covid-19 or any other virus.
Even so, it has garnered a lot of attention, including in some Facebook groups and Reddit communities, NBC News reported.
According to the CDC, prescriptions for ivermectin have increased 24-fold compared to pre-pandemic levels. Typically, about 3,600 prescriptions for ivermectin are written each week. “Since the beginning of July 2021, the outpatient dispensing of ivermectin has increased rapidly again, reaching more than 88,000 prescriptions in the week ending August 13, 2021,” said the CDC.
Earlier this month, the FDA released a recommendation warning Americans not to take ivermectin.
Amazon has previously been screened for selling products with misleading coronavirus claims on its marketplace. Last February, amid a surge in products with suspicious coronavirus claims, the company added a note about searches for “coronavirus,” “Covid-19,” “n95 mask” and other terms that users directed to the CDC for more Obtain information on prevention and treatment of the disease.
Amazon has made efforts to remove books and other products with misinformation about the coronavirus. A recent study by researchers at the University of Washington found that more than 10% of Amazon search results contain products that promote health misinformation. The researchers examined books, e-books, audio books, clothing, and diet supplements.