PHOENIX (3TV / CBS 5) – Banner Health reports in a latest update from Dr. Marjorie Bessel reported a surge in poison calls related to people using the drug ivermectin to treat COVID-19.
In August alone, the Banner Health Poison and Drug Information Center managed 10 cases of people using ivermectin to treat COVID-19 symptoms. So far this year they have received 30 calls related to taking ivermectin. Seven of these 30 cases had to be hospitalized. The Arizona Poison Control System in Tucson also saw an increase in ivermectin cases with 20 calls that year.
There has been a 163% increase in ivermectin poisoning cases in 2021 so far.
According to the National Poison Data System (NDPS), there have been 1,143 cases of ivermectin exposure in the United States so far this year. That’s a 163% increase from 2020, when a total of 435 cases were reported. There were 459 cases of ivermectin nationwide in August, compared with 58 cases the previous year.
“Ivermectin is not usually something that our poison control center gets a lot of calls about, so it is very worrying for us to see this growing trend,” said Dr. Bessel.
Ivermectin is often given to animals as a prescribed anti-parasitic drug. Dr. Bessel says there is no information that ivermectin is safe for people or whether it will be effective at treating the virus. The FDA recently said that ivermectin is prepared differently for animals and should never be used on humans. Dr. Bessel says Banner won’t prescribe ivermectin in any of their hospitals.
“Even levels of ivermectin approved for human use to treat non-COVID diseases can interact with other drugs and cause health complications,” added Dr. Bessel added.
Store owners say they usually order a few dozen packs of the drug and that would take a month. Now they are ordering 100 boxes that will be gone in a couple of weeks.
Banner Health recommends that the public not take ivermectin because it is not FDA approved and there is no clear understanding of how the drug can be used to treat it. The health care provider previously warned that the equine wormer could cause “significant human disease”.
“Clinical trials are ongoing to evaluate ivermectin’s effectiveness in COVID, but currently there are no clear results to confirm that this drug is safe or an effective form of treatment or prophylaxis for COVID,” said Dr. Bessel.
The Arizona family had previously reported that the drug was flying off shelves in the Valley. “It’s so fast now that we can’t even get it because our suppliers are down,” said Dottie Francisco, co-owner of Western Ranchman.
If you or someone you know accidentally takes ivermectin, contact the American Association of Poison Control Centers at 800-222-1222 for help.
Editor’s Note: The story has been updated to include the correct number of calls related to ivermectin.
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