In Las Vegas, warning against using livestock drugs to treat COVID ignored

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Denis Farrell / AP

The pest control drug Ivermectin is available for pets and humans by prescription or over the counter, but is not FDA approved for COVID-19. When formulated for animals, it can be harmful to humans.

Nevada health officials are warning residents against using ivermectin – an antiparasitic dewormer drug used on animals – to treat COVID-19.

It comes as local poison control officials say they have received calls from residents who ingested the drug and were suffering from side effects such as itching and hives, dizziness, headaches, nausea, diarrhea and muscle pain.

“It’s understandable that after more than a year of responding to the pandemic, people are looking for additional, unconventional tools and treatments that could help stop the spread of COVID-19,” the Southern Nevada Health District said. in a statement this week. “Unfortunately, people are turning to untested, unauthorized and in many cases dangerous treatments for COVID-19. “

The United States Food and Drug Administration has approved ivermectin for human use at “very specific doses” as tablets for parasitic intestinal worms and as a cream or lotion for skin conditions, including lice. scabies and rosacea, the agency said on one of its pages. dedicated to drugs.

Ivermectin is available for pets and humans by prescription or over the counter, but is not FDA approved for COVID-19. When formulated for animals, including in concentrations for farm animals of up to half a ton or more, it may be hazardous to humans.

“The FDA has received several reports of patients who required medical support and were hospitalized after self-medicating with ivermectin intended for horses,” the agency wrote.

Or to be frank, like the FDA was last week with that real viral Tweet: “You are not a horse. You are not a cow. Seriously, all of you. Stop that.”

But Las Vegans was not quick to receive the message.

The V&V Tack and Feed equestrian supply store in northwest Las Vegas is making several calls a day to find out if it has ivermectin in stock and now requires customers to prove they own horses for it. buy, reported KTNV Channel 13.

Store associate Shelley Smith told the TV station that people entering the store told her they were taking the coronavirus drug and were experiencing side effects, including vision loss.

“You shouldn’t be taking this product. It’s not for humans to take. It’s about treating the parasites in horses, ”Smith said.

The problem isn’t limited to Nevada, as some conservative numbers are putting their weight behind the drug despite numerous federal warnings.

Republican Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin was suspended from YouTube for a week this summer for promoting ivermectin. Some Republican lawmakers in Tennessee have called for a hearing to discuss the drug. America’s Frontline Doctors promotes ivermectin on its website; the group’s founder was arrested during the January 6 insurgency attempt. Popular right-wing media hosts have talked about drugs.

At least two people in Mississippi have been hospitalized for ivermectin toxicity. An Arkansas prison doctor is under investigation for prescribing the drug to patients, including inmates, for COVID-19. Texas received 55 calls to its poison control center this month for ivermectin, according to local media.

Shireen Banerji, pharmacist, toxicologist and director of the Nevada Poison Center, said the center has received four calls from Nevada so far this year regarding “exposures” to ivermectin in humans. From January 2019 to the end of August 2019 – the most recent comparable period before the pandemic – there was none.

Banerji said three of the four calls this year were “for the purpose of ‘intentional misuse’, that is, to use a product against the way it was intended to be used.”

This could mean using a drug without a prescription, removing it from the label, or using an animal version for human consumption.

The FDA has responded to interest in ivermectin as a COVID-19 mediator since the start of the pandemic. In April 2020, the agency’s director of veterinary medicine issued a warning letter after the publication of a study describing the effect of ivermectin on the virus that causes COVID-19 in boxes of Petri dish in the laboratory – not with human or animal test subjects, and not in a clinical trial.

FDA says ivermectin may interact with blood thinners and human overdoses may cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, low blood pressure, itching and hives, dizziness, balance problems , liver damage, seizures, coma and even death. The inactive ingredients in animal versions can also be harmful to humans, and in some cases regulators are unsure how these ingredients can affect the human body.

The Southern Nevada Health District recommends the usual protective measures against COVID-19: masks, washing your hands, staying home if you are sick, getting tested if you have symptoms or have been in contact with a confirmed or possible case , and get vaccinated.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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