Demand for ivermectin is increasing although it does not work for Covid-19

For the past week, Dr Gregory Yu, emergency physician in San Antonio, has received the same daily requests from his patients, some vacci...


For the past week, Dr Gregory Yu, emergency physician in San Antonio, has received the same daily requests from his patients, some vaccinated against Covid-19 and others unvaccinated: they ask him for ivermectin, a drug generally used to treat parasites. worms that have repeatedly failed clinical trials to help people infected with the coronavirus.

Dr Yu has refused requests for ivermectin, he said, but knows that some of his colleagues did not. Ivermectin prescriptions have seen a sharp increase in recent weeks, to over 88,000 per week in mid-August from a pre-pandemic baseline average of 3,600 per week, according to researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Some pharmacists are even reporting drug shortages. Travis Walthall, a pharmacist in Kuna, Idaho, a town of about 20,000 people, said that this summer alone he had filled more than 20 prescriptions for ivermectin, up from two or three in a typical year. For a week, he has not been able to obtain the drug from his suppliers; they were all out.

Mr Walthall was amazed, he said, at the number of people willing to take an unapproved drug for Covid. “I’m like, my God, this is horrible,” he said.

Although sometimes given to humans in small doses for head lice, scabies, and other parasites, ivermectin is more commonly used in animals. Doctors are sounding the alarm about a growing number of people obtaining the drug from livestock supply centers, where it can be in paste form or as a highly concentrated liquid.

Calls to poison control centers about ivermectin exposures rose dramatically, increasing their baseline five-fold in July, according to CDC researchers, who cited data from the American Association of Poison Control Centers. The Mississippi Department of Health said earlier this month that 70% of recent calls to the state’s poison control center were from people who had ingested ivermectin at livestock supply stores.

Dr Shawn Varney, toxicologist and medical director of the South Texas Poison Center, said that in 2019 his center received 191 calls regarding ivermectin exposure; So far this year, the center has received 260 calls and is expected to reach 390 by the end of the year. The vast majority of recent calls have come from people who have taken a veterinary product in an attempt to treat or prevent Covid-19.

“Everyone wants a cure for Covid because it is such a devastating disease,” Dr Varney said. “I’m begging people to stop using ivermectin and getting vaccinated because it’s the best protection we have at this point. Everything else is risk after risk.

Dr Varney said people calling the poison control center after taking ivermectin have sometimes reported nausea, muscle pain and diarrhea. He noted that there have been ivermectin overdose deaths in the past, although he is not aware of any specifically associated with Covid-19.

The greatest risk, he added, comes from people taking the animal product and ingesting a dose much higher than that appropriate for humans – sometimes 10 to 15 times the amount an approved capsule for humans. humans could contain.

“People go to animal feed stores and get a highly concentrated formulation because it’s intended for 1,000 pound animals,” Dr. Varney said. “They are exposing themselves to great potential danger.”

Ivermectin was introduced as a veterinary medicine in the late 1970s, and the discovery of its effectiveness in combating certain parasitic diseases in humans won the 2015 Nobel Prize in Medicine.

Although it has not proven to be effective in treating Covid, people are now clamoring for the drug, exchanging advice in Facebook groups and on Reddit. Some doctors have compared the phenomenon to last year’s surge of interest in hydroxychloroquine, although there are more clinical trials evaluating ivermectin.

The Food and Drug Administration weighed in last week. “You are not a horse”, the agency tweeted, with a Warning explaining that ivermectin is not approved by the FDA for the treatment or prevention of Covid-19 and that taking large doses can cause serious harm.

A recent review of 14 ivermectin studies, with more than 1,600 participants, concluded that none provided evidence of the drug’s ability to prevent Covid, improve patient conditions, or reduce mortality. 31 more studies are still underway to test the drug.

“There is great interest in reusing well-known inexpensive drugs such as ivermectin which are readily available as oral tablets,” said Maria-Inti Metzendorf and Stephanie Weibel, the authors of the review, in a th -mail to the Times. “While these circumstances seem ideal, the results of the available clinical studies conducted so far cannot confirm the widely advertised benefits.”

One of the largest trials studying ivermectin for the treatment of Covid-19, called the Test Set, was discontinued by the Data Safety Oversight Board on August 6 because the drug was found to be no better than a placebo at preventing hospitalization or a prolonged emergency room stay. Dr Edward Mills, a professor at McMaster University who led the study, which recruited more than 1,300 patients, said the team would have discontinued it sooner without the level of public interest in it. ivermectin.

“The person in charge of data security said: ‘This is now futile and you are not offering any benefit to the patients involved in the trial,” said Dr Mills.

Another study on the drug found that ivermectin could be quite mild unless taken in high doses. Dr Eduardo López-Medina, researcher at the Center for Pediatric Infectious Diseases in Colombia, conducted a randomized controlled trial for last spring’s study on the effects of ivermectin and found that she had no statistically significant effect on reducing the duration of Covid symptoms. But he also found that there was no statistically significant increase in adverse events for patients receiving ivermectin, even though they were taking a fairly high dose of 300 micrograms per kilogram.

“It appears to be a safe drug, but it is not enough to prescribe it openly,” said Dr López-Medina. “People should be using it in trials, but not necessarily for treating patients. The data is not robust enough to support its use.

Researchers and doctors are particularly alarmed by people looking for ivermectin as a possible form of prevention or treatment instead of getting one of the highly effective Covid vaccines. The FDA fully approved Pfizer-BioNTech Covid vaccine for people 16 and older last week, and Moderna vaccine approval is expected in the coming weeks.

“The only functional strategy we have to control Covid-19 is vaccination,” said Dr. Irwin Redlener, a physician in New York City and founding director of the National Center for Disaster Preparedness at Columbia University. “If people are not getting vaccinated because of the nonsense they read on the Internet, it is interfering with our ability to bring this pandemic under control. “



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Newsrust - US Top News: Demand for ivermectin is increasing although it does not work for Covid-19
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