(KXAN) — After a recent resurgence in several states, health officials are warning residents to be aware of an unauthorized “treatment” for COVID-19 — often being taken with dangerous consequences.
It’s called ivermectin and it’s used to treat and prevent parasites in animals, the Food and Drug Administration explains. Ivermectin is not FDA approved for the treatment of COVID-19 in humans and isn’t even an anti-viral drug — meaning it has no impact on the coronavirus. And because the large-concentration tablets are intended for large animals, they can be risky for humans.
In addition to not being authorized for treatment, there’s no evidence ivermectin is effective against COVID-19.
“There’s a lot of misinformation around, and you may have heard that it’s okay to take large doses of ivermectin. That is wrong.”FDA
The FDA and several state officials say they’ve seen an uptick in calamitous use of the drugs, particularly tablets used to treat parasitic worms in horses. While ivermectin is approved for humans to treat certain skin conditions (rosacea) and certain external parasites like head lice, the FDA warns this ivermectin is different than the one used in animals.
On Friday, the Mississippi Department of Health was forced to send out a warning to residents about the dangers of the drug after several poisonings.
The Mississippi Poison Control Center said at least 70% of recent ivermectin-related calls are tied to people taking livestock or animal formulations they bought a livestock supply stores or through online markets.
Eighty-five percent of callers had mild symptoms — these include rash, nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain — but one person needed evaluation because of how much they’d taken.
More severe dangers of ivermectin ingestion include neurologic disorders, seizures, coma and death.
Use of ivermectin should only be taken if prescribed by a doctor for an FDA-approved use. Regardless of the usage and prescription, the FDA warns ivermectin overdose is still possible. Possible interaction with other medications is also a possibility.
Despite these warnings, false claims of the drug’s effectiveness have proliferated on Facebook, with one such post showing a box of the drug clearly labeled “for oral use in horses only.”