HIDALGO COUNTY, Texas (Central Valley) – The pest control drug Ivermectin is making headlines because people are using it to try and treat COVID-19.
The Texas Poison Control Network received more calls last month related to ivermectin exposure than they received for all of 2020.
The drug is safe to use under the right circumstances, but doctors have sounded the alarm bells that people are using the drug for something it is not supposed to do, and they blame the misinformation on the internet.
“It’s a daily battle, we are fighting misinformation and we are fighting COVID,” said Dr Federico Vallejo, intensive care physician at DHR Health.
Vallejo told ValleyCentral that he has been battling misinformation around ivermectin for months.
Vallejo said it’s used to treat parasites and intestinal worms – as well as topically spread to treat lice. “And it’s a great drug for this treatment.”
Ivermectin can be used by people but it does require a prescription, so anyone looking to get ivermectin should talk to a doctor, but many of them will not prescribe the drug to treat COVID-19 because it is not approved by the FDA for this use.
Vallejo said there is no study that shows ivermectin to work to treat COVID-19, but there is “a randomized, controlled, double-blind study – the way we’re supposed to do studies for drugs – which show no benefit for ivermectin. “
A version formulated to treat parasites in large farm animals can be found in farm supply stores and is used by people to try and treat COVID-19. Dr Ivan Melendez, the Hidalgo County health authority, said this is where people get sick.
“The preparation between the veterinary and human doses has to do with the purity, the dosage, the preparations. So even though it’s the same formula, it’s packaged and concentrated differently, ”Melendez said.
The FDA and CDC both say not to take ivermectin to treat COVID-19, but some people still have. The Texas DSHS issued a statement saying more people called the state’s poison control number because of ivermectin last month, 64, than for all of 2020, 48.
“Merck, the pharmaceutical company [company], whoever profits by selling it for COVID, they say don’t use it, ”Vallejo said.
Melendez and Vallejo both recommend that people get the COVID-19 vaccine instead of taking ivermectin.