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[BU Today] How Much Did US Insurers Waste on Ivermectin for COVID?

BU Today’s podcast ‘Question of the Week’ recently interviewed Rena Conti, Associate Professor of Markets, Public Policy, & Law, on her surprising findings related to insurance claims and reimbursement data. Her research revealed that insurers paid millions, possibly more than $130 million, for Ivermectin to treat COVID-19 in 2021.  

Rena Conti

Published

on

January 31, 2022


The podcast explains that ivermectin is an anti-parasitic drug typically used to treat the likes of head lice, tropical diseases, and can be toxic to humans in large doses. However, despite FDA approval, beginning in the summer of 2020 several doctors began prescribing the drug to treat Covid-19. In her research, Rena and her colleagues found that because of these prescriptions, insurance companies wasted upwards of $130 million last year. She and her team have done extensive research through an insurance claim database that had data on roughly six million Americans. Through that database they were able to see what was prescribed to a patient, the rationale behind the prescription, and how much it cost both the patient and their insurer.  

Though there are other actual proven ways to better treat the virus, Rena believes many patients are demanding Ivermectin, and doctors are “acquiescing” to their patients’ demand. She spoke on what she hopes her research does for these insurers going forward,  

“Insurers might want to consider additional provider education and patient education to support the use of indicated treatments and preventives for COVID-19,” she said. “As opposed to wasting money on things that don’t work.” 

Rena M. Conti is an Associate Professor at the Boston University Questrom School of Business. From 2006 through June 2018, Professor Conti was an Associate Professor of Health Economics and Policy at the University of Chicago Medical School and the Harris School of Public Policy. She is a health economist and her research focuses on the organization, financing and regulation of medical care. She has written extensively on the pricing, demand and supply of prescription drugs.

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