Attempted imports of Ivermectin spike in recent months

Medsafe has seen an increase in attempts by New Zealanders to import Ivermectin, a worm treatment for farm animals falsely claimed to be a Covid-19 cure.

Health experts and medical groups are pushing to stamp out the growing use of the decades-old parasite drug ivermectin to treat Covid-19, despite warnings that it can cause harmful side effects and there’s little evidence it helps. Source: Associated Press

In the last nine months, the number of consignments containing the drug referred to New Zealand's medicine regulator totals 140.

In January there were just 4, but by last month there were 51.

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Bloomfield debunks claim Vitamin C protects or treats Covid-19

Thirteen have already been referred to Medsafe this month. 

Of the 140 consignments, only 19 were released. Two were referred to the Ministry for Primary Industries. 

Medsafe said given Ivermectin is a prescription medicine, it can only be released on the authority of an authorised prescriber, which is usually a medical practioner.

"Medsafe is in discussions with Customs in relation to the increased volume of Ivermectin seen at the border," the regulatory body said when 1News asked if surveillance of the medicine was being ramped up at the border.

At the Covid-19 press conference on Wednesday afternoon, Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfied rubbished the drug.

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The Director-General of Health says vaccinations are still important, despite any medicine. Source: 1 NEWS

"It's not a safe proven treatment," he said.

"What people can do if they want to be safe from Covid-19 is get vaccinated."

The news comes as health authorities call on people not to be sucked in by misinformation about the vaccine's safety.

"There have also been claims on social media that people’s natural immunity or Vitamin C are sufficient to fight Covid-19 so there’s no need to get tested or, indeed, get vaccinated. This is not the case," Bloomfield said.

In the past week, more than 5000 doctors signed a letter urging people to get vaccinated.

"Talk to your GP, talk to your nurse," Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said on Wednesday.

"Everybody should have questions when it comes to these things, but don't be sucked in by misinformation."

It has left a lead researcher for a group monitoring Covid-19 misinformation to call the situation an "infodemic".

"There's too much information about the pandemic and it's too hard to tell the difference between what is good information and what is helpful information," Kate Hannah said.

"So it is about going back to those trusted voices, the people in your community who speak for you and with you."