Ivermectin prescriptions 24x higher than pre-pandemic levels, report says

The number of prescriptions for ivermectin in the U.S. is now 24 times as high as it was pre-pandemic, according to a report published Oct. 20 in The New England Journal of Medicine that cited data from the CDC

The report, conducted by researchers at the Oregon Health and Science University in Portland, said ivermectin poisonings rose sharply in August, with the number of prescriptions being four times higher than the number in July. The researchers defined pre-pandemic as March 16, 2019 to March 13, 2020.

Ivermectin is a drug typically used to treat parasitic infections in animals. It is FDA-approved for humans at very specific doses for some parasitic worms, as well as some topical formulations for head lice and skin conditions, but it is not an antiviral.

The drug has been increasingly misused to treat and prevent COVID-19 in recent months, though the FDA has warned against it. Calls to poison control centers across the U.S. have been on the rise in recent months as some Americans have been self-administering ivermectin. 

The report also detailed 21 calls the Oregon Poison Center received in August from people reporting ivermectin toxicity. 

Of the 21 people, six were hospitalized, and four required intensive care. Eleven people said they were using ivermectin to prevent COVID-19 and 10 said they were using it to treat COVID-19 symptoms. Most of the people were older than 60 years, and 17 of them were using veterinary formulations of ivermectin. 

Symptoms of the ivermectin poisoning included gastrointestinal distress, confusion, weakness, loss of muscle coordination, low blood pressure and seizures. For most of the patients, the symptoms developed within two hours after a large first dose. 

Read the full report here


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