Medical and pharmaceutical groups are warning against the unapproved use of ivermectin, a drug used to treat some infections caused by internal and external parasites, to prevent or treat the coronavirus.
“We are alarmed by reports that outpatient prescribing for and dispensing of ivermectin have increased 24-fold since before the pandemic and increased exponentially over the past few months,” the groups, which include the American Medical Association, said in a statement. “As such, we are calling for an immediate end to the prescribing, dispensing, and use of ivermectin for the prevention and treatment of COVID-19 outside of a clinical trial.”
The groups are joining similar calls from the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to stop the unapproved use of the drug to treat and prevent COVID-19. The American Medical Association as well as American Pharmacists Association and American Society of Health-System Pharmacists warned that using ivermectin in this way is harmful to patients.
Websites and online posts have inaccurately claimed that ivermectin can cure COVID-19. Some people have reportedly gotten sick from taking the version of the drug meant for veterinary use in horses and other livestock. The FDA in its warning said that it is understandable that people are looking for unconventional ways to treat COVID-19 but warned of misinformation.
Calls to poison control centers due to ingestion of ivermectin have increased five-fold from their pre-pandemic baseline, according to the groups’ statement.
“In addition, we are urging physicians, pharmacists, and other prescribers – trusted health care professionals in their communities – to warn patients against the use of ivermectin outside of FDA-approved indications and guidance, whether intended for use in humans or animals, as well as purchasing ivermectin from online stores,” the medical groups said. “Veterinary forms of this medication are highly concentrated for large animals and pose a significant toxicity risk for humans.”