Doctors, pharmacists, the federal government and several healthcare organizations warn against using ivermectin, a parasite drug commonly used on animals, as a treatment for COVID-19.
"It's a medication that's widely used in veterinary care for horses and large animals," explained Dr. Joshua Sherman, ER doctor at Advocate Trinity Hospital. "It does have some human indications, as well as mainly for parasitic diseases, things that are extremely rare."
Sherman said some patients have asked him about taking ivermectin, and he doesn't hold back.
"It's not safe. It isn't safe, it isn't intended for this use. It has the potential to cause multiple organ failure and could land you in the hospital. And, hopefully not, it could also land you dead," he said.
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Before the pandemic, ivermectin was dispensed less than 4,000 times each week by American pharmacies. But a recent survey found last month the drug, which has no proven effectiveness against COVID-19, was dispensed 88,000 times.
"There's a lot of misinformation around, and you may have heard that it's OK to take large doses of ivermectin. That is wrong," the FDA warned.
The CDC also released a warning, saying in part, "human exposure and adverse effects associated with ivermectin reported to poison control centers have increased in 2021 compared to the pre-pandemic baseline."
"As a pharmacist, the safety concerns clearly outweigh the benefits," said Anne Burns, VP of Professional Affairs for the American Pharmacists Association.
"We think we should stop prescribing it for COVID-related illness outside of authorized clinical trials," said Dr. Gerald Harmon, president of the American Medical Association. "Indiscriminate use can lead to side effects."
All of the doctors and pharmacists ABC7 spoke to emphasized the best proven method of preventing COVID is vaccination.