More Doctors Voice Concern About Ivermectin Use For COVID-19

Prescriptions for the drug more commonly used as a dewormer for animals have soared in the past several weeks

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Several epidemiologists and infectious diseases doctors are speaking up on the risks associated with taking Ivermectin for COVID-19.

The drug is an anti-parasitic that is used to treat tropical diseases seen in underdeveloped countries and few parts of the United States.

Lotions and creams containing ivermectin are also used to treat head lice and rosacea.

A different form is also FDA-approved for use in animals for prevention of heartworm disease and these forms are of the drug and topical creams can be found at feed stores.

Ivermectin is not approved for a treatment or preventative measure against COVID-19, but prescriptions for ivermectin have soared to levels that tower those pre-pandemic.

A study found that outpatient Ivermectin prescriptions increased through retail pharmacies from an average of 3,600 per week in 2019 to more than 88,000 per week by August of 2021.

"Please be careful to not use Ivermectin if you or your loved ones have COVID-19, " said epidemiologist Dr. Emily Smith in her blog Friendly Neighbor Epidemiologist. "We don’t know enough yet about whether it works or not to advise for it. And, the risk of adverse events are pretty high."

Experiments on cell cultures in petri dishes showed very high doses of ivermectin can impact SARS-CoV-2 but the findings haven't been replicated in people.

The CDC and FDA, as well as the drug's maker Merck, state the drug does not treat COVID-19.

Adverse events include GI problems, hypotension, neurologic effects, seizures, coma, and death.

In August, the Texas Poison Center Network experienced a more than 150% increase in the number of calls received about ivermectin exposures compared with the previous month.

"The data on ivermectin is really poor but more than that, the idea to take one's health care responsibility using ivermectin, instead of masking or vaccination, is really such a huge mistake," said infectious disease physician Dr. Steven Berk, executive vice president of the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center and dean of the School of Medicine.

There are clinical trials looking into whether it is effective as a treatment but those trials are still ongoing.

"Misinformation and the anti-science rhetoric is killing Americans," said epidemiologist Dr. Katelyn Jetelina in her recent blog post about ivermectin use for COVID-19 and other current pandemic trends.

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