NS. GEORGE – The Utah Senate majority leader, who also owns several drug stores, recently told St. George News that its stores are prescribing a drug that was previously used as a de-worming agent in humans and animals to treat COVID-19.
This contradicts a statement made Tuesday by the Utah Department of Health, which joined the Federal Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to warn that ivermectin should not be used to treat COVID-19.
Some local doctors still stand by ivermectin, which is also sold under the brand name Stromectol, as a valid treatment for COVID-19. But others, including the chief physician at St. George Regional Hospital, say it shouldn’t be used.
They all agree that ivermectin isn’t a way to prevent COVID-19 in the first place. Even more alarming, according to the Utah Poison Control Center, some people buy and ingest the dose of ivermectin developed for horses from feed, resulting in some people being hospitalized for poisoning.
Among those who agree that ivermectin is not intended to prevent COVID-19 is Senator Evan Vickers, who also owns Bulloch Drug, Township Pharmacy, and other retail pharmacies in Cedar City.
âIt’s not a substitute for the vaccine. It’s something that should only be used for treatment, âVickers said in an interview with St. George News earlier this month.
Still, the Cedar City Republican, who also serves as majority leader in the state senate, said his pharmacies are bottling prescriptions for ivermectin to COVID-19 patients.
“There’s at least one pharmacy chain out there that doesn’t, but I don’t see anything wrong,” Vickers said. He added that while ivermectin has been derided as a “horse wormer,” there is a form available to humans.
âIt is used on humans. It tends to slow down the virus, âhe said. âThe challenge is that ivermectin is in tablet form for humans, but in paste form for animals, and the dosages are far from that. The poison control center recorded a significant increase in the number of veterinary forms in particular. “
According to the Utah Poison Control Center, there was 4.5 times more ivermectin poisoning in 2021 compared to 2020. The center’s director Amberly Johnson said 56% of exposures come from people who use it to prevent or treat COVID-19. And half of them needed medical help afterwards.
“Fifty percent of the people who called us after using ivermectin to treat or prevent COVID-19 received medical attention because of the exposure,” Johnson said.
The potential for abuse and the lack of evidence of its effectiveness led the Utah Department of Health to issue its ivermectin warning on Tuesday.
“I strongly encourage clinical providers to consider the harm they can cause when giving ivermectin to patients with COVID-19 infection,” said state epidemiologist Dr. Leisha Nolen in a statement. âWhile there is no data to show that it helps with COVID-19, there is very strong data to show that it can harm. I also encourage pharmacists to question any high dose ivermectin prescriptions that are inappropriate for their customers. ”
The purpose of ivermectin
Ivermectin was discovered in 1975 as a chemical compound that, according to pharmaceutical company Merck, could kill parasites. This earned its discoverers the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 2015. But this discovery was about killing animal parasites and like worms and insects that live on other animals.
The pill form of Ivermectin for humans is FDA approved for the treatment of head lice, scabies, river blindness, and other conditions caused by parasites. A stronger form, used on horses and other farm animals, is used to kill heartworms in the animals.
A Swedish study 2018 said if the animal form of ivermectin is ingested by a human, it could potentially cause serious neurological damage, including the inability to walk, coma, or death.
‘Lack of evidence’
As to whether the human form of ivermectin is effective against COVID-19, there are several studies that say it is not and one that says it is.
But medical experts point out that the study of Australian researchers last October, only found out that ivermectin could inhibit the replication of the SARS-CoV-2 virus in a Petri dish.
There isn’t a study yet that shows ivermectin helped treat COVID-19 in humans. An Egyptian study that said ivermectin was a useful COVID-19 treatment was drawn after it was discovered that researchers had falsified material. And so far one Analysis of other human studies found no effect of ivermectin on COVID-19.
However, since July the University of Oxford has been conducting a previously unsuccessful human trial and another trial has been launched last week in South Carolina.
The previous lack of evidence has made Dr. Patrick Carroll, the medical director of St. George Regional Hospital, is not convinced.
“Unfortunately, what we found with ivermectin was that it wasn’t effective,” said Carroll. “I wish it were, but the data shows it is not an advantage.”
Carroll said there is a lot of misinformation – especially on social media – where claims are made that are not backed by scientific research.
âThe big picture in treating patients is evidence-based medicine. This means that we look at what is effective and what is not effective in studies. We don’t just look at the conclusions, we look at their methods. “
One example, says Carroll, is studies that lack a large number of people or test subjects.
The manufacturer of ivermectin itself is also not convinced of the effectiveness of ivermectin against COVID-19. Merck publishes a opinion in February said there was “no scientific basis for a potential therapeutic effect against COVID-19” and also expressed concern about the safety of using ivermectin to treat COVID-19.
the FDA said it has not approved or approved ivermectin for the prevention or treatment of COVID-19 in humans or animals. The CDC also has one Health advice against the use of ivermectin to treat COVID-19, except in clinical trials.
Even so, there are still doctors who prescribe ivermectin locally as a COVID-19 treatment. And there is a local person who recently recovered from COVID-19 and said that ivermectin made a difference.
Recovery from COVID-19 with ivermectin
A southern Utah resident who St. George News does not name said he took ivermectin after being prescribed it by his doctor after contracting COVID-19. Although they were never hospitalized, they described COVID-19 as “the worst illness they have ever experienced”.
But they said the pain subsided after ivermectin came into play.
âThe day after taking my first dose, I felt immediate relief from the extremely painful body aches I’d had for seven days. I think it helped me get better, âthey said. âIt could really have been the thing that kept me away from the hospital. I was feeling very bad and desperate when I finally decided to take it. “
The local resident noted that it was the human ivermectin that came and was prescribed in pill form, rather than the veterinary form, that caused many poison control problems.
“Fortunately, it looked like a regular pill and didn’t have a horse on the bottle,” they joked. “Also, the doctor I visited said he had successfully treated a lot of COVID patients with the same protocol.”
Not a magic pill?
It has been shown that there may not be a single method of treating COVID-19. While ivermectin may be effective in one person with COVID-19, it may not be effective in another. And it can also mean that drugs are being used for any other than their original purpose.
Such was the case for Kerry Gunter, the Cedar City man who was in the intensive care unit at St. George Regional Hospital near death from COVID-19, before reportedly an “Ave Maria” dose of the rheumatoid arthritis drug Xeljanz was administered saved him.
Carroll and other medical experts say the best way to reduce the chance of contracting COVID-19 is to receive the vaccine and wear a face covering when physical distancing is not an option. And monoclonal antibodies are one of the few treatments for COVID-19 that has been approved by the FDA and has been shown to help patients infected with COVID-19.
Other drugs have been touted as possible COVID-19 treatments that have been shown to be snake oil.
Like ivermectin, the Ebola drug remdesivir initially showed promising opportunities to inhibit COVID-19 in petri dishes and eventually was approved by the FDA as a COVID-19 treatment. However, its use in humans has proven to be ineffective on shortening hospital stays and not affecting mortality.
Even less effective was hydrochloroquine, an antimalarial drug that didn’t just do that no effect on COVID-19 but it actually made patients sicker.
COVID-19 information resources
St. George News has made every effort to ensure that the information in this story is accurate at the time of its preparation. However, as the situation and science surrounding the coronavirus evolve, it is possible that some data has changed.
Refer to the following resources for the latest information and resources.
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