SEATTLE, Sept. 3, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- The Washington Poison Center (WAPC) is warning the public of self-medicating with the drug ivermectin. Ivermectin is not approved or authorized by the FDA for treatment or prevention of COVID-19. When used inappropriately and/or without a prescription, ivermectin can lead to illness and hospitalization.
Throughout 2021, calls to the WAPC regarding ivermectin increased substantially. From January 1 to August 30, 2021, the WAPC received 31 calls—more than triple the calls in all of 2020 (9 calls). The largest number of calls occurred in August, with 5 requesting information about ivermectin, and 13 seeking medical treatment after taking ivermectin.
What is ivermectin? Ivermectin is FDA-approved as an oral tablet to treat parasitic worms and as topical (on the skin) treatments for head lice and rosacea. Different concentrations and forms of ivermectin are used to treat parasites in animals.
To date, studies evaluating ivermectin for COVID-19 treatment and prevention have not demonstrated sufficient evidence to recommend its use. There are additional trials currently underway.
What is the concern with ivermectin?
Accessing ivermectin requires a prescription by a healthcare provider. To bypass a prescription, some individuals are using ivermectin products intended for animals. Doing so can lead to overdose, as the medications used in animals are oftentimes at a higher concentration than is safe for humans.
Poison Centers have also seen increases in "misuse" of ivermectin prescriptions, such as swallowing skin medications and/or taking a higher dose than recommended by their prescriber.
Ivermectin can also interact with other medications. People who take the blood thinner warfarin may be at risk of bleeding. People who take benzodiazepines (like Xanax or Valium) or barbiturates (like phenobarbital) may experience increased sedating effects.
Call the WAPC immediately if you experience any of the following symptoms after taking ivermectin: nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, headache, blurred vision, low blood pressure, dizziness, confusion, hallucinations. Call 911 if someone is experiencing seizures or loses consciousness.
If you are prescribed ivermectin, always follow your prescriber's instructions, including how much and when to take the medication.
Never take medicine that is meant for animals, or swallow skin medications (lotions, shampoos, and other topical treatments).
Prevent COVID-19 by getting vaccinated, wearing masks, practicing physical distancing, appropriately sanitizing and disinfecting, etc.
Call the WAPC with any questions about safely using medications, drugs, or other substances.