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Arizona poison experts warn against use of animal anti-parasite drug for COVID-19 treatment

Posted at 9:40 PM, Aug 23, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-24 00:40:01-04

PHOENIX — Poison experts in Arizona are warning the public against the use of an animal anti-parasite drug to treat COVID-19.

The Banner Poison & Drug Information Center in Phoenix and the Arizona Poison & Drug Information Center in Tucson have seen an increase in calls regarding Ivermectin exposures and its use in humans.

Ivermectin, an anti-parasite medication typically used for animals, would not prove to be effective in preventing or treating coronavirus and could lead to serious health risks when used incorrectly.

“Higher doses can cause significant illness in humans,” states Dr. Daniel Brooks, medical director of the Banner Poison & Drug Information Center. “Ivermectin is not approved for the treatment of COVID-19 illness and should not be taken. Animal formulations are not intended for human use.”

Two cases have been reported to the Banner Poison & Drug Information Center in Phoenix so far this month.

Since the beginning of this year, the poison and drug information center has received 12 calls involving exposure to Ivermectin.

Four more calls this month involved people asking for information about whether to use the medication.

In Tucson, the Arizona Poison Control System has received 20 calls so far that include 12 exposure calls and eight calls requesting information.

The FDA recently said Ivermectin preparations for animals are significantly different than those approved for humans and should never be used on people.

“Ivermectin tablets are approved by the FDA to treat people with intestinal strongyloidiasis and onchocerciasis, two conditions caused by parasitic worms,” the FDA stated. “In addition, some topical (on the skin) forms of ivermectin are approved to treat external parasites like head lice and for skin conditions such as rosacea.”

Ivermectin and other medications often described on social media as "anti-COVID-19" are not recommended for people outside of hospitals, officials said.

“There are FDA authorized monoclonal antibody therapies which are highly beneficial when administered in patients experiencing more than mild symptoms,” reports Dr. Farshad Mazda Shirazi, medical director for the Arizona Poison & Drug Information Center.

For those who have been exposed to any poison, medication chemical or bite/sting, contact the poison center immediately at 1-800-222-1222.