A rural Oklahoma doctor says emergency rooms in the southeastern part of the state are overwhelmed with patients who ingested an antiparasitic drug intended for livestock to treat COVID-19, according to local KFOR.
Ivermectin has long been used to kill parasites in animals and humans, but more recently has gained popularity as a COVID-19 treatment despite unproven anti-viral benefits. The drug has not been approved to treat COVID-19.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently revealed it received several reports of people requiring hospitalization after self-medicating with ivermectin meant for animals. Ivermectin intended for livestock can be extremely dangerous as the drugs are often highly concentrated. Poison control centers have recorded a five-fold increase in calls related to ivermectin exposure.
Physician Jason McElyea told KFOR patients who took doses of ivermectin meant for a horse are filling up hospitals in eastern and southeastern Oklahoma.
“The ERs are so backed up that gunshot victims were having hard times getting to facilities where they can get definitive care and be treated,” McElyea told the outlet.
“All of their ambulances are stuck at the hospital waiting for a bed to open so they can take the patient in and they don’t have any, that’s it,” he said. “If there’s no ambulance to take the call, there’s no ambulance to come to the call.”
“Some people taking inappropriate doses have actually put themselves in worse conditions than if they’d caught COVID,” he said.
McElyea noted people in the rural area are familiar with ivermectin as many have used it on their livestock.
According to the FDA, toxic levels of ivermectin can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, low blood pressure, allergic reactions, dizziness, problems with balance, seizures, coma and possible death.
The American Medical Association (AMA) this week called for the “immediate end” of the use of ivermectin to treat COVID-19 and for physicians to stop prescribing the drug for that purpose.
The AMA said the prescribing of ivermectin has increased 24-fold since before the pandemic and has risen exponentially over the past few months.
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