Without evidence of benefit, an intervention should not be presumed to be beneficial or safe.

- Rogue Medic

Why the Ivermectin Evidence is Pathetic

In a pandemic, which has killed almost a million Americans, you might expect that people would try to figure out the most effective treatment, rather than scam their fellow Americans, but you would be wrong.

There are some doctors, who do not understand the difference between good research and garbage, and are promoting bad research because they really really believe – and they were right lucky about steroids before the evidence was clear. Therefore they must be right about everything.

Except, reality does not care what you believe.

They believed in steroids before there was good evidence that steroids work, but their belief was based on wishful thinking and willful ignorance, not on good science. That they were right was purely coincidence. We have seen doctors kill tens of thousands of patients with antiarrhythmic drugs, because the drugs were widely prescribed without high quality evidence of safety and efficacy.

CAST – The Cardiac Arrhythmia Suppression Trial (the high quality evidence that was agreed to in order to prove which drug saved more lives) showed that the doctors fooled themselves, and killed their patients, by believing in something that only appeared to be an improvement in outcomes. Tens of thousands of deaths were not an improvement in outcomes.

If we have a story that seems to make sense, it is much easier to convince ourselves that we are not killing patients. After all, we mean well. At least some of us do. This is an example of misleading ourselves with a narrative fallacy. C A S T and Narrative Fallacy. Rudyard Kipling called these Just So Stories.

Dr. Pierre Kory (president of the Frontline COVID-19 Critical Care Alliance – FLCCC, which is different from the extreme quackery of America’s Frontline Doctors) may be a true believer, but if Dr. Kory really believes ivermectin works, he should be demanding large scale randomized double blinded placebo controlled research, rather than making excuses for low quality research.

Dr. Kory’s claims are so bad that even PolitiFact can’t find any truth in Dr. Kory’s claim – and PolitiFact tries to be as fair to every claim as possible.

What about the science? The promoters of ivermectin have claimed that the odds are over 2 trillion to 1 that the results of the latest meta-analysis are due to chance low quality research methods. Their research methods are almost as bad as their math.

Dr. David Gorski has written a long article that goes into detail about the problems with this latest paper. Ivermectin is the new hydroxychloroquine, take 2. Read the whole article, but here is a sample:

In fairness, the authors don’t actually say that meta-analyses of crappy studies do make good evidence, at least not in the paper. However, ivermectin advocates touting the study fans are certainly making that claim, and Dr. Kory sure did seem to me to imply the same in his interview with Bret Weinstein. In any event, one large, well-designed rigorous double-blind clinical trial for prevention, along with one large, well-designed rigorous clinical trial for treatment, could trump this entire meta-analysis.

Indeed, Gideon Meyerowitz-Katz did a reanalysis of the studies analyzed by the BIRD Group that shows that if you leave out the two studies that are as yet only preprints, are very small, and actually appear to have been miscategorized as higher quality than they are, the results are very different:

This basically shows that without those two studies, the analysis demonstrates no benefit for ivermectin at all compared to placebo, with a confidence interval that includes everything from a big benefit to a large harm from the drug.

If the study really had a 2 trillion to 1 chance of the results being by chance alone, it would not rely of such low quality research (preprints, tiny studies, studies without placebos, studies that are not double blinded, . . .).

There is no good reason to look at any research on treatment for COVID-19 that is not randomized placebo controlled and double blinded.

There are millions of patients to study, so the only reasons to avoid using the highest quality of research is a lack of confidence in the treatment.

As with promoters of alternative medicine, the actions of the promoters of ivermectin do not demonstrate confidence that what they are selling will survive high quality research.

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