Molnupiravir and ivermectin are not the same

10 November 2021
What was claimed

Molnupiravir is actually ivermectin with a different name.

Our verdict

Incorrect. While both drugs are produced by Merck, they are different medications.

Posts on social media have claimed that a newly approved drug for the treatment of Covid-19, molnupiravir, is actually ivermectin with a different name. 

Although the two drugs are produced by the same company (Merck), they are different drugs, and they work in different ways. 

Dr. Stephen Griffin, virologist and associate professor at the University of Leeds, has previously told Reuters that molnupiravir is not repackaged ivermectin and said the two drugs have “dissimilar chemistry” and have different mechanisms of action (ways that they work). 

Paul Auwaerter, the Clinical Director of the Division of Infectious Diseases at Johns Hopkins Medicine also previously told Reuters that the two drugs are structurally different. 

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) told Full Fact that it “can confirm that Molnupiravir and Ivermectin are not the same drug” and said that they contain different molecules.

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What is molnupiravir?

Molnupiravir (brand name Lagevrio) is a new antiviral drug which interferes with the replication of the SARS-CoV-2 virus in the body. This keeps viral levels lower, and can help to reduce the severity of the disease. 

Professor Sir Munir Pirmohamed, Chair of the Commission on Human Medicines, said in an MHRA press release that in clinical trials, molnupiravir was found to “be effective in reducing the risk of hospitalisation or death for at-risk non-hospitalised adults with mild to moderate COVID-19 by 50%”.

What is ivermectin?

As we have written about before, ivermectin is a well known anti-parasite medication.

Throughout the pandemic, there has been debate about the drug and speculation that it could be used to treat or prevent Covid-19. 

At the time of writing the question is still a subject of research. The World Health Organisation and the European Medicines Agency have said that ivermectin should not be used in patients with Covid-19 except in the context of a clinical trial.

The Department of Health and Social Care has also previously confirmed to Full Fact that based on the available data, it did not believe that there is sufficient evidence to prove that Ivermectin is a safe and effective treatment for Covid-19

Update 12 November 2021

This piece has been updated to include a quote from the MHRA.

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