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Prescriptions for ivermectin - a deworming drug - surged to 24 times their pre-pandemic levels as people baselessly take it as a COVID-19 cure

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This picture shows the tablets of Ivermectin drugs in Tehatta, West Benga, India on May 19, 2021.
Ivermectin tablets. Photo by Soumyabrata Roy/NurPhoto via Getty Images
  • Prescriptions for ivermectin jumped 24-fold in August compared to pre-pandemic levels, the CDC said.

  • The drug has been promoted as a cure for COVID-19, in spite of lack of evidence.

  • It's not been approved as a COVID-19 treatment and can be dangerous if not used appropriately.

  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

The number of prescriptions of ivermectin, a deworming drug that has been baselessly touted as a COVID-19 cure, spiked more than 24 times in August compared to pre-pandemic levels, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Ivermectin has been approved for use in humans as an anti-parasitic, but not as a COVID-19 remedy.

More than 88,000 prescriptions for the drug were filled out by pharmacies in the week ending August 13, the CDC said in a report published August 26.

That's about 24 times more than the weekly average number of ivermectin prescriptions filled out in the year before March 13, 2020, when COVID-19 was declared a national emergency in the US, the CDC said.

While there is no data to conclusively support the use of ivermectin to reduce disease and death from COVID-19, high-profile figures including Sens. Ron Johnson and Rand Paul have promoted the drug as an answer to COVID-19.

Both the Food and Drug Administration and the CDC have issued advisories against the dangers of using the misusing ivermectin when using it as a drug against COVID-19.

Inappropriate use of the drug can lead to overdose, potentially causing hallucinations, seizures, coma, and death, the CDC said.

Some users of the drug have complained online about the dangerous effects, including blurry vision, diarrhea, and pooping out what they believed were "worms," as Insider's Andrea Michelson and Madison Hall reported. In July, ivermectin-related calls to poison control centers rose fivefold compared to pre-pandemic levels, the CDC said.

The FDA also said earlier this year that it had received reports of people taking ivermectin in doses intended for animals. The CDC says such doses can be highly concentrated and result in overdoses when used by humans.

A group named America's Frontline Doctors, whose founder has been charged in connection to the Capitol riot, has been selling $90 telemedicine consultations to prescribe the drug, Insider's Kelsey Vlamis reported.

Seventy percent of recent calls to Mississippi's poison control center were related to ingestion of animal ivermectin, Insider recently reported.

Vaccinations are the most effective means to prevent infection by COVID-19, and protect against severe disease, hospitalization, and death. The CDC underlined this in its report.

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