OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – As COVID-19 cases continue to climb across the country, some Americans are searching for alternative options to protect themselves from the virus.
For months, the Food and Drug Administration has warned Americans against using ivermectin to treat or prevent COVID-19.
Ivermectin is often used to treat or prevent parasites in animals, like horses.
Ivermectin and Use in Humans
Ivermectin tablets are approved by the FDA to treat people with intestinal strongyloidiasis and onchocerciasis, two conditions caused by parasitic worms.
Also, some topical forms of ivermectin have been approved to treat external parasites like head lice and for certain skin conditions.
When used as prescribed for certain conditions, it is generally safe and well tolerated.
Ivermectin and COVID-19
Recently, there have been reports that ivermectin could help you fight off COVID-19 or it could prevent infection all together.
Reports from in vitro studies suggest that ivermectin acts by inhibiting the transport proteins that are used by the virus to suppress the patient’s antiviral response.
However, the FDA says ivermectin is not an anti-viral drug and the agency has not reviewed data to support the use of ivermectin in COVID-19 patients.
There have been several clinical trials completed regarding ivermectin and its uses for COVID-19, but the results have not been definitive.
“Despite this in vitro activity, no clinical trials have reported a clinical benefit for ivermectin in patients with these virus,” the National Institutes of Health’s COVID-19 Treatment Guidelines Panel said.
The NIH Panel has also determined that there is “insufficient data to recommend ivermectin for treatment of COVID-19″ following some clinical trials.
It further stated that in order to have the desired effect on COVID-19, a patient “would require administration of doses up to 100-fold higher than those approved for use in humans.”
Other clinical trials are currently underway.
Although some versions of ivermectin are approved for human use, patients must obtain a prescription in order to access that medication.
With the rise in popularity of the drug in recent months, it seems people are now turning to a different source to find the tablets; livestock feed stores.
The ivermectin that is stocked at feed stores is not approved for human use. Instead, it is approved to treat parasites in livestock.
The FDA warns that drugs meant for animals, especially livestock, are highly concentrated since they are used to treat large animals that can weigh 1,000 pounds.
As a result, if a human takes a dose meant for an animal, it could be highly toxic.
“Never use medications intended for animals on yourself. Many animal drugs are available in different concentrations than those used for humans, and are often available in much larger quantities because they are intended for use in large animals like horses and cows. As a result, there is the potential for an excessive dose to cause toxic effects,” Scott Schaeffer, managing director of the Oklahoma Center for Poison and Drug Information, said.
The FDA also warns that the inactive ingredients in animal products are not evaluated for use in people, which means experts don’t know how those ingredients could impact a human body.
Warnings of Overdosing on Ivermectin
The FDA says that even the levels of ivermectin for approved uses can interact with other medications. Also, humans can overdose on ivermectin if they take too large of a dose.
Symptoms of an overdose can include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, low blood pressure, allergic reactions, dizziness, problems with balance, seizures, coma, and even death.
“Since the beginning of May, we’ve received reports of 11 people being exposed to ivermectin. Most developed relatively minor symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and dizziness, though there’s the potential for more serious effects including low blood pressure and seizures with an overdose, as well as interactions with medications such as blood thinners,” Schaeffer added.
Despite those warnings, it seems that many Americans are still interested in ivermectin for the prevention of COVID-19.
Researchers looked at data from the past 30 days and found that states in the southern United States tended to be more interested in the drug.
The top 5 states with the most interest in ivermectin as a COVID-19 treatment are as follows:
When looking at the Google trends data for just the past 24 hours, it looks like Oklahoma topped the list for the level of interest in ivermectin.
In breaking down the interest level in the state, Google says most of the ivermectin searches came from the Tulsa area, followed by Oklahoma City, Lawton, and Ada.
In order to prevent a severe COVID-19 infection, the FDA stresses that Americans should get a COVID-19 vaccine, and wear a mask in public.