Few local COVID patients seek alternative drug

·2 min read

Oct. 17—TRIAD — Representatives with area health systems say it has been rare for COVID-19 patients to ask for treatment with anti-parasitic drug ivermectin.

And even if they do make the request, local health care professionals say they wouldn't pursue such a treatment because it's unproven.

Ivermectin, typically used as a dewormer treatment for large farm animals such as horses, cattle and sheep, emerged on the fringes this year as a supposed COVID-19 treatment.

This past summer, as ivermectin became more widely promoted through social media, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control issued a bulletin saying there's no reputable evidence that ivermectin can counter COVID-19.

"Get vaccinated against COVID-19," the CDC says bluntly in its bulletin. "COVID-19 vaccination is approved by FDA and is the safest and most effective way to prevent getting sick and protect against severe disease and death from SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19."

Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist medical providers emphasize that "the best protection against COVID-19 is vaccination," said Joe McCloskey, a public relations manager with the health system.

"Our focus is on treatments that have been proven to be safe and effective, and the preponderance of evidence from good, solid clinical trials show that ivermectin has no role in the treatment of COVID-19," he said.

Novant Health abides by guidance from government agencies and medical organizations when treating COVID-19 patients, said Megan Rivers, media relations director.

"Given the recent spread of conflicting and confusing information across media and social channels, Novant Health has provided clinical care team members with an outline of our recommendation," Rivers told The Enterprise.

Cone Health also doesn't use ivermectin to treat COVID-19, said public relations representative Doug Allred.

Since ivermectin began being circulated as an alternative to the vaccine, the CDC reports that overdose calls to poison control centers after people tried ivermectin on their own and had an adverse reaction. Side effects and symptoms include nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea, headache, blurred vision, dizziness, rapid heart rate and low blood pressure. The CDC reports severe nervous system effects have been reported, including tremors, seizures, hallucinations, confusion, loss of coordination and balance, decreased alertness and coma.

The American Medical Association and other health care advocates oppose the ordering, prescribing or dispensing of ivermectin to prevent or treat COVID-19.

Still, the cultural fever pitch over ivermectin has become so intense that patients and their relatives in nine states have sued hospitals or medical providers to compel them to use ivermectin to treat COVID-19. The majority of legal challenges have failed.

pjohnson@hpenews.com — 336-888-3528 — @HPEpaul

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