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Amazon to block some autocomplete search results for ivermectin, amid misuse for COVID-19

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Amazon said it plans to block some autocomplete responses to address concerns over ivermectin, an unproven treatment for COVID-19, coming up as a suggestion when users type “iv” in the shopping platform’ssearch bar. 

“Amazon’s autocomplete responses are driven by customer activity,” said Amazon spokesperson Craig Andrews in an email to USA TODAY. “We are blocking certain autocomplete responses to address these concerns.”

Ivermectin is an anti-parasite treatment for humans and animals, such as horses, which some people have misused to treat COVID-19.

When a user types “iv” in an Amazon search, the top results include “ivermectin,” “ivermectin for horses” or “ivermectin paste.”

Howeverwhen users searches “ivermectin for humans” or “ivermectin for COVID,” they get no results, but instead find a message advising “against the use of ivermectin to treat or prevent COVID-19” along with a link to the Food and Drug Administration website.

The FDA warning was issued following multiple reports of hospitalizations due to people “self-medicating” with the drug. 

Tech companies have grappled with how to slow the spread of misinformation about COVID on their platforms. In July, lawmakers introduced a bill to hold companies such as Facebook and Twitter accountable for misinformation spread about a public health emergency like the COVID pandemic.

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