4 News Now Q&A: What is ivermectin and how should it be used?

Your Questions Answered

Q: What is ivermectin and how should it be used?

A: The number of calls the Washington Poison Center has received about the drug ivermectin has tripled the past year. People started using it recently when a study said it was 90 percent effective in preventing COVID-19.

However, that study was not peer reviewed, and scientists say the numbers in it were manipulated.

Now, the FDA reports people are being hospitalized across the country after self-medicating with ivermectin intended for animals.

With so much misinformation being shared online, here are four facts the FDA wants you to know about ivermectin:

  1. Ivermectin is approved for human use to treat infections caused by some parasitic worms, head lice and skin conditions. It is not approved for treating COVID-19.
  2. Research does not show ivermectin is effective against preventing or treating COVID-19 at this point.
  3. Taking large doses of ivermectin is dangerous.
  4. An ivermectin prescription should be filled through a pharmacy and taken exactly as prescribed by your doctor.

The FDA also warns ivermectin products for animals are different from ivermectin products for people.

For one thing, animal drugs are often highly concentrated because they are used for large animals like horses and cows, which weigh a lot more than we do. Experts say such high doses can be highly toxic in humans.

It is also important to know the FDA reviews drugs not just for safety and effectiveness of the active ingredients, but also for the inactive ingredients. Many inactive ingredients found in products for animals are not evaluated for use in people.

It is also possible to overdose on ivermectin. Nausea, vomiting, seizures, coma and even death are all possible side effects.

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