AUSTIN (KXAN) — Texas has seen an uptick in calls to Poison Control for exposure to ivermectin, the livestock dewormer the U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently issued a warning about.
People have been hospitalized for using it to treat COVID-19 — despite experts saying it shows zero effectiveness at treating or preventing the coronavirus. In fact, the drug isn’t even an anti-viral.
The Texas Poison Center Network says it’s received 150 calls about ivermectin exposure so far this year, with 55 of those in the past month. The network says it got only 48 calls of exposure during all of 2020.
Ivermectin can come as pills and as a topical ointment, but neither are FDA approved for treatment of COVID-19 in humans. 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.
Animal dosages of ivermectin can be dangerous — even fatal — for humans.
Mild symptoms include rash, nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain. Severe dangers of ivermectin ingestion include neurologic disorders, seizures, coma and death.
No matter the reason, 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 social media and websites such as “covid19criticalcare.com,” which are not currently considered among official news and/or health resources. Several notable conservative personalities have promoted the medication, including Fox News host Laura Ingraham and Republican Sen. Ron Johnson.
While some studies on ivermectin as a treatment for COVID-19 exist, no health agencies have approved it for use and any data that does exist — according to experts — isn’t enough to suggest efficacy or safety. Several other studies purporting to support its use are also in question and/or have been fully retracted.
Over the weekend, the FDA even tweeted in response to the treacherous rise in usage, saying: “You are not a horse. You are not a cow. Seriously, y’all. Stop it.”