Oregon Health and Science University said its poison center managed a total of 25 cases of Oregonians who intentionally misused ivermectin to treat or prevent COVID-19 between August 1 and September 14. Five of those people were so severely ill they had to be treated in an intensive care unit.
The FDA is warning consumers to not use livestock dewormers as a way to treat or prevent COVID-19. Ivermectin is generally used in animals to treat or prevent certain parasites or heartworm disease. There are ivermectin tablets and topical formulations approved for use to treat people with some parasitic worms or head lice and skin conditions. But the FDA says the tablets approved for humans are at very specific doses and that taking large doses of the drug is dangerous and can cause serious harm.
“COVID-19 is a devastating disease and can be very frightening, but the public does not need to use – nor should it use – unproven and potentially dangerous drugs to fight it,” said Robert Hendrickson, M.D., medical director of the Oregon Poison Center at Oregon Health & Science University and professor of emergency medicine in the OHSU School of Medicine.
The Oregon Poison Center’s recent cases presented a variety of symptoms, including mental confusion, balance issues, low blood pressure and seizure. The patients were in their 20s through their 80s.
Dr. Hendrickson said people should stick to treatments that are already carefully tested and approved. He added that getting vaccinated, wearing a mask, physical distancing, frequent hand-washing, and other measures continue to be the best ways to avoid getting infected.
Both the Food and Drug Administration and Merck, which makes ivermectin for human-use, have said there is no scientific data that supports its use to treat covid-19. Neither the FDA nor the National Institutes of Health have endorsed its use for Covid-19 either.
Dr. Hendrickson says early studies may have looked promising for ivermectin’s impact on Covid, but that’s no longer the case.
“It was studied in human beings in really nicely designed studies. What we found is it didn’t have any effect at all on Covid symptoms or curing Covid.”