A deworming drug is being used by more and more Americans to treat COVID-19, which is worrying health officials.
Ivermectin in an anti-parasite medication that is often used to treat animals such as horses and and cows, but can be prescribed to a human for specific uses.
Many are purchasing veterinary versions of the drug, in which the dosages are often much larger than what is safe for humans.
This has led to some Americans being hospitalized after being poisoned by the large dose, and forcing the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to issue an official warning.
Distribution of ivermectin, an anti-parasite drug, has increased 19-fold after falsehoods about the drug’s ability to treat COVID-19 spread on social media
‘This medication is often used to treat parasitic infections in livestock,’ Dr Joshua Nogar, the medical toxicology fellowship director at Northwell Health, told ABC News.
‘The high doses that veterinary grade ivermectin is supplied in makes it easy for people to overdose on this medication.
In February, a committee with the National Institutes of Health reviewed studies of the drug to treat COVID-19 patients and found insufficient evidence to recommend for or against use of the drug.
But with cases rising by 182 percent to 147,000 per day in the last month, increasing numbers of Americans have been turning to ivermectin to treat their infections.
‘You are not a horse. You are not a cow. Seriously, y’all. Stop it,’ the FDA tweeted on Saturday.
The FDA issued a warning against taking ivermectin on Saturday, telling people they are not cows or horses
In its warning, the FDA wrote:
‘FDA has not approved ivermectin for use in treating or preventing COVID-19 in humans.
‘Ivermectin tablets are approved at very specific doses for some parasitic worms, and there are topical (on the skin) formulations for head lice and skin conditions like rosacea. Ivermectin is not an anti-viral (a drug for treating viruses).’
Falsehoods about ivermectin’s alleged ability to treat COVID-19 spread of social media after some misinterpreted earlier studies into the drug’s effectiveness.
Mississippi health officials also released a statement on Friday warning against taking the drug.
‘Animal drugs are highly concentrated for large animals and can be highly toxic in humans,’ wrote Dr Paul Byers, state epidemiologist.
‘Some of the symptoms associated with ivermectin toxicity include rash, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, neurologic disorders, and potentially severe hepatitis requiring hospitalization.’
State health officials also said 70 percent of recent calls to poison control were related to people taking ivermectin in doses meant for animals.
The medication is purchased at livestock supply centers, where a prescription is not required since it is meant for large animals.
‘There are approved uses for ivermectin in both people and animals,’ the state says.
‘Patients should be advised to not take any medications intended to treat animals and should be instructed to only take ivermectin as prescribed by their physician.’
Mississippi’s Department of Health reported zero hospitalizations due to the drug, though one person who called was recommended to seek out further treatment.
Ivermectin has been at the center of a somewhat polarizing debate between political talks show hosts, Democrats, Republicans and even scientists since the beginning of the pandemic.
Between March and this month, Fox News hosts Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham promoted the drug’s use as an alternative COVID-19 treatment to their audiences on their prime-time shows.
In June, Sen Ron Johnson, a Wisconsin Republican, had his YouTube accounted suspended for posting a video recommending viewers to take ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine as treatments for the virus.
Source: Health & wellbeing | The Guardian