A doctor in rural Oklahoma says hospitals are being supported by patients who overdosed on veterinary ivermectin, a pest control drug. The Mississippi Department of Health said 70% of recent calls to the state’s poison control center in August were from people who ingested ivermectin at livestock supply stores.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that a person had an “altered mental state” after apparently taking five ivermectin tablets – which he had purchased on the Internet – per day for five days. Another person drank an ivermectin formula intended for cattle and was hospitalized for nine days with tremors and hallucinations.
Three inmates at a northwest Arkansas prison told The Associated Press they unknowingly received ivermectin as part of their Covid medication. The CDC reported nearly 90,000 prescriptions per week as of mid-August, compared to a pre-pandemic average of 3,600 per week. The shelves of veterinary supply stores have been emptied of ivermectin.
Public health warnings against using the drug as a treatment for Covid-19, especially not in the high doses designed for livestock, appear to have done little to shake its growing popularity in the United States – or in the minds of its advocates. in the conservative and the marginal right-wing media sphere.
Podcasting giant Joe Rogan listed ivermectin this week as one of the treatments he received after contracting the virus. Conspirator Alex Jones, who was banned from Facebook, YouTube and Twitter, pulled out a box of ivermectin pills during one of his trademark rants and popped two pills live on the show he still manages to stream.
Front Line Covid-19 Critical Care Alliance, a group of nonprofit doctors, promotes ivermectin as “a basic drug in the prevention and treatment” of Covid-19.
Ivermectin was first introduced as a veterinary drug in the late 1970s and then approved for use in humans infected with parasites. Since 1987, its American manufacturer, Merck & Co., has donated billions of doses that have saved hundreds of millions of people from river blindness in Africa and other parasitic diseases. Two scientists shared a Nobel Prize in 2015 for their work in developing the drug. But in the United States, it has limited human applications, such as treating lice and rosacea, and has been used primarily to deworm horses, cows, and pets – until now.
At Twitter Last month, the Food and Drug Administration warned that the drug was not approved for use against Covid and that taking large doses could cause serious harm. “You are not a horse,” reads his tweet. “You are not a cow. Seriously, all of you. Stop that.”
In a statement on Wednesday, alarmed health experts from the American Medical Association, the American Pharmacists Association and the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists called for “an immediate end to prescribing, dispensing and the use of ivermectin for the prevention and treatment of Covid -19 outside of a clinical trial.
Although it has not been shown to be effective in treating Covid-19, people are still clamoring for the drug, exchanging advice in Facebook groups and on Reddit. Some doctors have compared the phenomenon with last year’s surge of interest in hydroxychloroquine, although ivermectin has undergone more clinical trials, which have so far repeatedly shown that it does has not helped Covid patients.
One of the largest trials, called Together Trial, was halted last month because the drug was found to be no better than a placebo at preventing hospitalization. In July, a research document showing the drug reduced Covid deaths was withdrawn after questions arose about plagiarism and data manipulation.