Volume 98, Issue 2
  • ISSN: 0002-9637
  • E-ISSN: 1476-1645



Serious neurological adverse events have been reported from large scale community-based ivermectin treatment campaigns against in Africa. The mechanism of these events has been debated in the literature, largely focusing on the role of concomitant infection with versus the presence of mdr-1 gene variants in humans allowing ivermectin penetration into the central nervous system. A case series of serious neurological adverse events occurring with the use of ivermectin outside of the onchocerciasis indication has been identified in VigiBase, an international database of suspected adverse drug reactions. Forty-eight cases have been reported from multiple countries in which ivermectin has been prescribed for multiple indications; clinical review excluded 20 cases with more probable explanations or other exclusion criteria. Within the remaining 28 cases, there is supportive evidence for a causative role of ivermectin including presence of the drug in brain tissue in one case and recurrence of symptoms on repeated exposure in three cases. This series suggests that serious neurological adverse events observed with the use of ivermectin in the treatment of onchocerciasis may not be entirely explained by concomitant high burden loiasis infections. By comparison with the extensive post marketing experience with ivermectin in the successful treatment of parasitic infections, the number of reported cases suggests that such events are likely rare. However, elucidation of individual-level risk factors could contribute to therapeutic decisions that can minimize harms. Further investigation into the potential for drug–drug interactions and explorations of polymorphisms in the mdr-1 gene are recommended.

[open-access] This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.


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  • Received : 17 Jan 2017
  • Accepted : 03 Oct 2017
  • Published online : 04 Dec 2017

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