Poison control centers launch wave of ivermectin overdose appeals: Coronavirus updates: NPR
Denis Farrell / AP
Poison control centers are seeing a dramatic increase in calls from people self-medicating with ivermectin, a pest control medicine for animals that some falsely claim to treat COVID-19.
According to the National Poison Data System (NPDS), which collects information from the country’s 55 poison control centers, there has been a 245% increase in reported exposure cases from July to August – from 133 to 459.
Meanwhile, emergency rooms across the country are treating more patients who have taken the drug, convinced by false and misleading information being broadcast on the internet, by talk show hosts and political leaders. Most patients overdose on a version of the drug formulated to treat parasites in cows and horses.
The troubling trend has been on the rise since early 2021 – despite warnings from state health officials and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention against taking ivermectin. The NPDS indicates that 1,143 cases of ivermectin exposure were reported between January 1 and August 31. This represents an increase of 163% compared to the same period last year.
Ivermectin was discovered in 1975 and is approved for use in humans to treat infections caused by certain parasitic worms, head lice, and skin conditions such as rosacea. When taken in appropriate and prescribed doses, it can be very effective and is on the World Health Organization’s Essential Medicines List.
But after some clinical trials early in the coronavirus pandemic, the Food and Drug Administration says “currently available data does not show ivermectin to be effective against COVID-19.”
Exposure cases are increasing across the country
In Kansas, the Department of Health and the Environment is urging residents to ignore false information about the effectiveness of ivermectin against COVID-19.
“The Kansans should avoid taking any medicine intended for animals and should only take ivermectin when prescribed by their doctor,” Lee Norman, secretary of the department, said earlier this week.
In Mississippi, a state with the second-lowest coronavirus vaccination rate in the country, the state Department of Health issued an alert on the surge in calls for poison control in August. The department said at least 70% of recent calls to the state’s poison control center were related to people ingesting a version of the drug intended for livestock.
The Minnesota poison control system faces the same problem. According to the department, only one case of ivermectin exposure was reported in July, but in August the figure rose to nine. Kentucky has seen similar increases. Thirteen classes of abuse have been reported this year, Ashley Webb, director of the Kentucky Poison Control Center, told Louisville. Mail-Journal.
“Of the calls, 75% were from people who purchased ivermectin from a pet food store or farm supply store and self-medicated with the animal product,” Webb explained. The remaining 25% were people who had a prescription, she added.
“You are not a horse. You are not a cow. Seriously, all of you. Stop it,” the FDA noted in a new warning at the end of last month.
Those who have a prescription from a health care provider should only fill it “through a legitimate source such as a pharmacy, and take it exactly as prescribed ”, instructs the agency. She also warned that large doses of the drug are “dangerous and can cause serious harm” and said doses of ivermectin produced for animals could contain ingredients harmful to humans.
The agency added, “Even ivermectin levels for approved human uses may interact with other drugs, such as blood thinners. You may also overdose on ivermectin, which can cause nausea, vomiting, blood thinning and blood thinning. diarrhea, hypotension (low blood pressure), allergic reactions (itching and hives), dizziness, ataxia (problems with balance), seizures, coma and even death. ”