The number of monthly ivermectin prescriptions skyrocketed in 2021 because many people misused the anti-parasite drug to combat COVID-19.
Ivermectin is safe for human use in small doses, and is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat parasite infections.
However, it has become the center of public attention in recent months after social media rumors caused many to believe the drug could treat or prevent COVID-19.
Doctors say it has no capacity to treat Covid, nor is the medication FDA-approved to treat the virus.
An analysis conducted by Komodo Health, a health software company, found monthly prescriptions increased 72 percent from 39,864 in 2019 to 68,428 in 2021.
Heath software company Komodo Health looked at claims data for the anti-parasite drug ivermectin and found the monthly average increased 72% from 39,864 in 2019 to 68,428 in 2021 (above)
Misinformation about ivermectin is based on a misinterpreted study from 2020 that found high concentrations of the drug could stop the virus from replicating (file image)
For the report, published on Tuesday, Komodo Health looked at claims data the company has collected from January 2019 to May 21019.
The team found that the number of prescriptions for ivermectin rose from a monthly average of 39,864 to 40,347 in 2020 to 68,428 in 2021, an increase of 72 percent.
Over the 29-month time period, the highest monthly average was seen in January 2021 at 97,192.
Changes varied by state with the greatest overall increase seen in Idaho from 116 prescriptions per month in 2019 to 417 per month in 2021 – a 258 percent spike.
Rounding out the top five were New Mexico (216 percent), Wyoming (204 percent), Mississippi (198 percent) and South Dakota (196 percent).
The report also found the average number of healthcare providers prescribing the drug per month rose 34 percent from 2019 to 2021.
New Mexico saw the biggest jump at 172 percent followed by South Dakota (118 percent), Alaska (117 percent), Idaho (109 percent) and Wyoming (108 percent).
Additionally, the report found the biggest increases in prescriptions for ivermectin were seen among specialties that don’t generally treat conditions – such as parasitic infections, scabies or head lice – for which the drug is used.
Anesthesiologists saw the greatest increases in prescriptions at 1,319 percent between 2019 and 2021.
This was followed by physical medicine and rehabilitation (1,301 percent), pulmonary disease (1,167 percent), alternative care (879 percent) and cardiology (741 percent).
Idaho saw the greatest increase from 116 prescriptions per month in 2019 to 417 per month in 2021 – a 258% spike
New Mexico saw the biggest jump in the average number of healthcare providers prescribing the drug per month at 172%
‘As no change was observed in the prevalence of any condition that ivermectin is approved to treat, the steep increase in both prescriptions for ivermectin and healthcare providers prescribing it is likely related to off-label use for COVID-19 despite warnings from health officials about its lack of efficacy,’ the authors wrote in the report.
‘This indicates a concerning trend of departure from evidence-based care. This is occurring concurrently with hesitancy from patients to receive FDA-approved vaccines.
‘It is the responsibility of certified clinical professionals to follow guidelines in treating their patients, as well as to counter misinformed narratives and act as models in encouraging trust and adherence to guidelines.
‘Providers writing prescriptions against the guidelines of the CDC, FDA and other health agencies during a public health crisis could indicate a systemic issue requiring further research. ‘
Misinformation about the drug’s ability to fight viruses like SARS-CoV-2, which causes Covid, sprung up after an Australian study last year found the drug could hinder replication of the virus’s cells.
Many said the findings proved ivermectin was an effective Covid treatment – and could even replace vaccine use.
Many specialties that don’t generally treat conditions for which the drug saw a jump in prescriptions including anesthesiology and cardiology
However, Dr Timothy Geary, one of the world’s top parasitology experts, explained to DailyMail.com in an interview last month that the findings of the study could not be translated to humans because the dosages used were too high to be considered safe.
‘In that study they showed that, in cell cultures, ivermectin could inhibit [Covid] replication, but the concentrations required for that effect were in a range called the micromolar range – very high concentrations relative to what you would find in the plasma of a treated person or an animal, which would be 20 to 50 times lower,’ he said.
‘At high concentrations in cell culture, many compounds can have all kinds of effects but when you look at what we would call pharmacological levels – what we actually see and treated patients – it is far higher than [what would be used in humans]
‘So the standard doses of ivermectin that we use for people are never going to reach the levels that would be effective in against the virus based on that one study.’
Geary did, however, say ivermectin is safe for humans in smaller doses with few negative side effects when used properly.
Source: Daily Mail | Health News