Although parasite-caused diseases are a more widespread problem for poor and developing countries, it is a mistake to believe that people in economically advanced regions are at no risk of catching a nasty parasitic infection. There is a wide range of neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) caused by parasites that have traveled across the globe and settled in certain regions of the United States and Canada, killing and making seriously sick thousands of people every year.
The five most dangerous NTDs that can seriously deteriorate the quality of the person’s life and even have a fatal outcome for some are cysticercosis, Chagas disease, toxoplasmosis, toxocariasis, and trichomoniasis. Some of these cause recognizable and easy-to-detect symptoms, but others can run almost asymptomatically or have very few telling signs, which makes it all the more difficult for doctors to come up with the right diagnosis.
The good news here is that all of the above parasitic diseases are preventable and treatable, and the three most widely used medications against these and other parasite infections are called Albendazole, Ivermectin, and Vermox. Let us take a closer look at these three drugs and see how they compare to each other in terms of safety, efficiency, availability, and price.
What Are Albendazole, Ivermectin, and Vermox?
Albendazole and Vermox (mebendazole) are both anthelmintic drugs used to treat the symptoms of certain infections caused by worms and other parasites. Albendazole helps with pork tapeworms and dog tapeworms, while Vermox is most effective against infections triggered by whipworms, roundworms, hookworms, and pinworms. Ivermectin is a broad-spectrum antiparasitic medicine designed for the treatment of intestinal worms, scabies, and parasitic eye infections. Here is more about each of the three drugs:
Albendazole is an effective and trusted anthelmintic medication, also available under the Albenza brand name. This drug is used for treating patients infected with pork and dog tapeworms, tapeworms in the brain, and some other types of parasites. Albendazole works by inhibiting the worms’ ability to absorb sugar, which results in their death of starvation. The most unsafe known side effects of this medication include fetal damage, bone marrow suppression, eye damage, CNS symptoms, and liver problems.
- Ivermectin (Stromectol)
Ivermectin, also sold under the brand name Stromectol, is a renowned antiparasitic treatment used in patients with intestinal worms, scabies, parasitic eye infections, and head lice (off-label). Ivermectin is recognized globally for its reliable efficacy, inexpensiveness, and ease of use. A single dose of this medicine is usually enough to help the patient eliminate the infection. Ivermectin works by paralyzing the nerve and muscle cells and completely immobilizing the parasites. The most dangerous side effects are an increased heart rate, swelling in the face, low blood pressure, and acute abdominal pain.
- Vermox (mebendazole)
Vermox whose main active agent is called mebendazole (also the name of a generic drug) is an effective anthelmintic that kills a variety of intestinal parasitic infections caused by worms. The drug is well-tolerated by the majority of patients and rarely causes severe side effects. The most common symptoms experienced by people after taking Vermox include diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, and mild skin rash. The operating mode of Vermox is similar to albendazole – it also blocks sugars from being absorbed by parasites and makes them starve to death. Unlike the other two meds, Vermox can be used to treat several types of worms at once, and it is completely safe to use in children over two years old.
Which of the three drugs your doctor will choose to prescribe depends on your diagnosis and symptoms, your general health status, and your past medical history. Albendazole, Ivermectin, and Vermox are all prescription-only medications in the USA and Canada.
How Much Do Albendazole, Ivermectin, and Vermox Cost in the US and Canada?
The cost of Stromectol oral 3mg tablets is around $107 per pack of 20 pills in the US pharmacies and $199 in Canada. The most common version of generic ivermectin is available for only $29.72.
The average retail price of two brand-name Albenza 200mg oral tablets in the USA is around $516, while generic albendazole will cost only $170 for a supply of two oral tablets 200mg. Generic albendazole in Canada can cost as little as $53.99 per 30 oral tablets of 200mg.
A supply of 18 Vermox tablets of 200mg in Canada costs around $148, while the same amount of generic mebendazole pills will cost a little over $30.
Which of the Three Drugs is Better?
The three medications reviewed here are equally effective and are usually well-tolerated by patients. Which one will work better depends on a particular infection and the symptoms it causes. Some types of parasites can be killed with any of the three drugs, in which case your doctor will make the decision based on your general state of health, any concurrent conditions, and your past medical history.