When was ivermectin first used on humans

Discover when ivermectin was first used on humans and its impact on global health. Learn about the history and development of this important medication.

History of ivermectin use in humans

Ivermectin, a broad-spectrum antiparasitic medication, has a fascinating history when it comes to its use on humans. Originally developed in the 1970s, ivermectin was primarily used in veterinary medicine to treat a variety of parasitic infections in animals. However, its potential for human use was soon recognized.

In 1981, the first human trials of ivermectin were conducted, focusing on its efficacy against onchocerciasis, also known as river blindness. This debilitating disease, caused by the parasitic worm Onchocerca volvulus, affects millions of people in Africa, Latin America, and Yemen. The results of these trials were incredibly promising, demonstrating that ivermectin was highly effective in reducing the symptoms and transmission of onchocerciasis.

Following these successful trials, ivermectin was approved for human use in 1987 by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This marked a major milestone in the fight against onchocerciasis, as it provided a safe and effective treatment option for those affected by the disease. Since then, ivermectin has been widely used in mass drug administration campaigns, leading to significant reductions in the prevalence and intensity of onchocerciasis in many endemic areas.

Over the years, further research has revealed the broad spectrum of activity of ivermectin against other parasitic infections, including lymphatic filariasis, scabies, and strongyloidiasis. Its affordability, safety, and effectiveness have made it an invaluable tool in the global effort to eliminate these neglected tropical diseases. Additionally, recent studies have explored the potential antiviral properties of ivermectin, particularly against certain RNA viruses, sparking interest in its use as a treatment for viral infections.

In conclusion, the discovery and subsequent approval of ivermectin for human use have had a profound impact on the field of tropical medicine. Its timeline of medical applications highlights its efficacy against various parasitic infections and suggests promising potential in other areas of medicine. As research continues, ivermectin may continue to play a crucial role in improving the health and well-being of communities around the world.

Discovery of Ivermectin: A Breakthrough in Medical Science

Ivermectin, a powerful antiparasitic drug, was first discovered in the late 1970s by Japanese microbiologist Satoshi Ōmura and Irish pharmacologist William C. Campbell. Their groundbreaking research led to the development of a medication that revolutionized the treatment of several parasitic infections.

In 1978, Ōmura began collecting soil samples from various locations in Japan, hoping to isolate microorganisms with potential pharmaceutical properties. One of these samples, taken from a golf course in the town of Kitasato, yielded a strain of soil-dwelling bacteria called Streptomyces avermitilis. Ōmura and his team isolated and cultured this bacterium, eventually obtaining a compound they named avermectin.

In 1979, Campbell, who was working at the Merck Institute for Therapeutic Research, received a sample of Ōmura’s avermectin. He and his team began studying its potential medical applications and discovered that it had remarkable activity against a wide range of parasites, including nematodes and arthropods.

The breakthrough came in 1981 when Campbell and his team modified the chemical structure of avermectin, creating a more potent and effective compound, which they named ivermectin. This new compound showed extraordinary efficacy against parasites that cause diseases such as river blindness (onchocerciasis) and lymphatic filariasis.

Merck & Co., Inc., a pharmaceutical company, recognized the immense potential of ivermectin and decided to develop it further for clinical use. In 1987, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved ivermectin for the treatment of onchocerciasis, making it the first drug for this neglected tropical disease.

Since its discovery, ivermectin has been widely used to treat various parasitic infections, including scabies, strongyloidiasis, and head lice. It has also shown promise in the treatment of other conditions, such as malaria and certain viral infections.

The discovery of ivermectin represents a milestone in medical science, as it has transformed the lives of millions of people affected by parasitic diseases. It has contributed significantly to the global efforts to eliminate these debilitating conditions and improve public health worldwide.

Ivermectin’s First Use on Humans: A Revolutionary Treatment

Ivermectin, a groundbreaking drug with wide-ranging applications, was first used on humans in the 1980s. Originally discovered in the 1970s as a natural product of the bacterium Streptomyces avermitilis, ivermectin quickly gained attention for its potent antiparasitic properties.

1981: The remarkable potential of ivermectin was first realized when it was found to be highly effective in the treatment of river blindness (onchocerciasis), a debilitating disease caused by parasitic worms. Dr. William C. Campbell and Dr. Satoshi Ōmura were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2015 for their discovery of this groundbreaking treatment.

1987: Ivermectin’s effectiveness in treating lymphatic filariasis, another devastating parasitic disease, was confirmed. This disease, caused by microscopic worms, affects millions of people in tropical regions around the world.

1996: The World Health Organization (WHO) launched a global campaign to eliminate lymphatic filariasis, utilizing mass administration of ivermectin as a key strategy. This effort has since made significant progress in controlling the spread of the disease.

2000s: Ivermectin’s potential in treating other diseases caused by parasites, such as scabies and head lice, began to be explored. Research studies and clinical trials have shown promising results, leading to the inclusion of ivermectin in treatment guidelines for these conditions.

Present: Ivermectin continues to be a vital tool in the fight against parasitic diseases, with ongoing research exploring its potential use in other areas, such as malaria and certain viral infections. Its safety profile, broad-spectrum activity, and affordability make it a valuable asset in global health efforts.

Timeline of Ivermectin’s Medical Applications

Medical Application
1981 Treatment of river blindness (onchocerciasis)
1987 Treatment of lymphatic filariasis
1996 Global campaign to eliminate lymphatic filariasis
2000s Treatment of scabies and head lice

Ivermectin’s Impact on Parasitic Infections: A Game Changer

Ivermectin, a medication originally developed for veterinary use, has had a significant impact on the treatment of parasitic infections in humans. Since its discovery, it has revolutionized the field of parasitology and has been hailed as a game changer in the fight against various parasitic diseases.

Discovery and Development


Ivermectin was first discovered in the late 1970s by Japanese scientist Satoshi Ōmura and his team at the Kitasato Institute. The team was searching for new compounds that could effectively combat parasitic infections in animals. They isolated ivermectin from a soil sample collected from a golf course in Japan.

After its discovery, ivermectin was quickly recognized for its broad-spectrum activity against a wide range of parasites. It was found to be particularly effective against nematodes and arthropods, including parasites that cause diseases such as river blindness and lymphatic filariasis.

Medical Applications

Ivermectin’s medical applications began in the early 1980s when it was first used to treat parasitic infections in humans. The drug proved to be highly effective and quickly became a key tool in the fight against diseases caused by parasitic worms.

One of the most significant impacts of ivermectin has been in the control and elimination of onchocerciasis, also known as river blindness. This debilitating disease is caused by the parasitic worm Onchocerca volvulus, which is transmitted by black flies. Ivermectin has been instrumental in reducing the transmission of this disease and preventing blindness in millions of people in endemic regions.

Ivermectin has also been crucial in the fight against lymphatic filariasis, a disease caused by parasitic worms transmitted by mosquitoes. Mass drug administration campaigns using ivermectin, alongside other drugs, have helped to significantly reduce the prevalence of this disease in several countries.

In addition to its impact on these two diseases, ivermectin has also been used to treat other parasitic infections, including scabies and head lice. It has proven to be highly effective and has provided relief to millions of people suffering from these conditions.

Future Potential

Ivermectin’s impact on parasitic infections has been transformative, but its potential goes beyond its current medical applications. Research is ongoing to explore the drug’s efficacy against other diseases, such as malaria and COVID-19.

While more studies are needed to fully understand the drug’s potential in treating these diseases, early evidence suggests that ivermectin may have antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties that could be beneficial in certain contexts. However, further research and clinical trials are necessary to determine its safety and effectiveness.

Overall, ivermectin’s impact on parasitic infections has been remarkable, saving countless lives and improving the health and well-being of individuals around the world. Its discovery and development have paved the way for new treatments and continue to inspire further research in the field of parasitology.

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