By TOMMY REZAC
St. Joseph Post
A growing number of COVID-19 patients in the United States are taking ivermectin, an anti-parasitic drug used in livestock, to try and beat the virus.
Medical experts at the local and national levels are saying this is a dangerous idea.
Dr. Scott Folk, Mosaic Life Care's Director of Infectious Diseases, says the Infectious Diseases Society of America, of which he is a member, has found no evidence to support the idea that ivermectin can effectively treat COVID.
"After reviewing the data on ivermectin," Folk said, "the Infectious Diseases Society of America drew the same conclusion, as did the FDA and the CDC. Namely, that the evidence to support safety and efficacy of ivermectin is very low for both hospitalized patients and outpatients."
Ivermectin has been FDA approved for human use in very specific cases. For instance, it's a safe remedy for headlice and other types of parasitic worms and a skin condition called rosacea.
"To be equally clear," Folk said," ivermectin is not approved by the FDA for either the treatment or the prevention of COVID in humans or animals."
Studies done by the National Institutes of Health last year found that large amount of ivermectin did stop COVID from growing within cells inside a test tube at a lab. However, a large amount of the drug was used in that experiment - an amount too large and too dangerous for human use.
"In order to achieve the blood levels necessary to inhibit COVID-19 virus," Folk said, "the dose have to be up to 100-fold higher than what is approved for human use. That, in turn, can lead to adverse affects and toxicities."
Possible side effects of unauthorized use of ivermectin, especially large doses, are nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, low blood pressure, hives, seizures or even death in some cases.
Most people who seek ivermectin for COVID treatment are those who remain skeptical of the available vaccines. Folk says those who take ivermectin often include those who can't afford a trip to the hospital if they fall severely ill with COVID.
Other reasons for use of ivermectin might include attempts to shorten quarantine time, or prevent the transmission of COVID to others. Dr. Folk reiterates - the COVID-19 vaccine is still the best option for defense against the virus.
"Still, the best means of prevention by far is the vaccines," he said. "But, for patients who have not been vaccinated and who get COVID, the best thing they can do at that point would be to seek medical evaluation to see if they would be a candidate for the monoclonal antibody."
Folk is unaware of any specific cases of patients in the local area using ivermectin as a COVID treatment. While the human form is really only obtained with a prescription, the animal form is usually available at farm goods stores.
The animal form of ivermectin has a higher volume of the active ingredient, because it's typically used to treat large animals like horses and cattle.
While there is ongoing research to determine whether or not ivermectin could be a safe treatment of COVID-19, Folk warns that as of now, there is not enough evidence to support the idea that ivermectin is a safe COVID remedy for humans, and taking the drug outside of clinical trial is dangerous.
"You must remember that (ivermectin) is not approved by the FDA for the treatment of prevention of COVID," Folk said. "So, there's no reason to be using ivermectin today for prevention or treatment of COVID."
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