SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Some people in the Ozarks are looking for alternative treatments for COVID-19, and some are turning to a drug called Ivermectin.
Ivermectin is usually used to treat parasites in humans and cattle, and a local doctor weighed in on the risks of this treatment.
“We have a hospital with dozens and dozens of patients that have taken Ivermectin that is in with COVID pneumonia. I see this every day,” says Infectious Disease Specialist Dr. Robin Trotman.
Dr. Trotman warned that Ivermectin could do more harm than good, especially if people are getting the pills from a vet.
Studies have not shown the drug to affect the body’s COVID-19 response.
“There are doctors in the community prescribing these medications, sure. Despite the evidence and despite the guidelines, they are working off anecdotes, right? So somebody says, ‘This doctor treated 100 patients, and they all got better’…as opposed to using the same scrutiny for all other drugs,” says Dr. Trotman.
Ivermectin is often used for heartworms in cows and horses, and sometimes prescribed for humans, but doctors’ and vets’ recommendations for its use against COVID-19 have prompted warnings from the National Institute of Health, the FDA, and the drug’s manufacturer.
“You know I hear a lot of people say people are taking cow deworming medicine. Well, Iver is medicine for humans, it’s been tested, it’s approved, it’s in medications, but it’s not an anti-viral. To me, if the manufacturer of this drug says don’t use it for this pandemic, I mean, that’s pretty telling that the evidence isn’t there,” says Dr. Trotman.
The FDA warns that the high dosage used for cattle can be toxic for humans, although Dr. Trotman says that he has not seen any adverse effects of the drug.
However, he warns that taking doses meant for animals is never a good idea.
“Yeah, a lot of what we do is not ideal, but Ivermectin is even less effective than that which we know works. We have things that work. The monoclonals clearly work, if you’re in the hospital steroids clearly work. But this one, I wish it worked, but the evidence is pretty clear,” says Dr. Trotman.