A “handful” of people have caused concern at a Northern Territory health clinic after asking about an unproven treatment normally used to treat parasites in humans and animals, instead of vaccines, to treat COVID-19.

Key points:

  • Practitioners at a Top End chain of health clinics have been asked by “a handful” of patients about a non-standard drug to treat COVID-19
  • This has prompted the clinic to issue a warning to Territorians
  • Imports of the drug in question, ivermectin, have increased, prompting warnings from authorities

Danila Dilba Health Clinic, which runs seven clinics across the Top End, has warned Territorians against using alternative treatments, such as ivermectin, and has reinforced its message to get vaccinated.

Ivermectin is used in humans against parasitic infections, such as mites, worms and scabies.

Vets use it to treat heartworm, among other infections, in animals.

Danila Dilba head of clinical governance Dr Andrew Webster said while fewer than 10 people had asked about the treatment it appeared to have come from a social media post.

“It is a real worry that people might be looking for these unproven treatments,” he told ABC Radio Darwin’s Late Breakfast.


Why worry?

Invermectin was raised at a clinic doctors’ meeting last Friday. 

“It seems to be a very small issue,” Dr Webster said.

“Fewer than 10 people have been asking about it at this stage.

“We haven’t been asked across our service to prescribe it. People have enquired about it.

“I think the biggest problem would be that, even if it were effective — which it isn’t — you’re protecting yourself and not the community.

Dr Webster said a social media post had been deliberately provocative.

“We’re just trying to stimulate conversations about this and get people to think about a proven treatment, like a vaccine, as opposed to something they bought on the internet, or something that has no evidence for being effective,” he said.

“We don’t know how much people are thinking or talking about procuring ivermectin,” he said.

“People are reading things on social media and seeing international reports about ivermectin and I think people are looking for alternatives to the vaccine.”

However, he reiterated that the doctor’s door was always open.

Dr Andrew Webster, the head of clinical governance at the Danila Dilba Health Service, sits in a treatment room at Danila Dilba.

Dr Andrew Webster is encouraging everyone to speak to their doctor rather than follow ill-informed sources on the internet.(

ABC News: Michael Franchi


TGA says ‘no way’

Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Administration has “detected increased importation and prescribing” of ivermectin recently.

In a statement, the government organisation said:

“The TGA strongly discourages self-medication and self-dosing with ivermectin for COVID-19 as it may be dangerous to your health.

Antiviral efficacy against COVID-19 and improvement to clinical outcomes from ivermectin have not been proven.

There is insufficient evidence to validate the use of ivermectin in patients with COVID-19.”

– Therapeutic Goods Administration

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Top End clinics warn against ivermectin as COVID-19 treatment
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