Texas A&M: Texas A&M Expert Warns Against Using Ivermectin To Treat COVID-19

More than a year into the COVID-19 pandemic, vaccines continue to be the main defense against the virus. Despite this, an uptick in reports of people taking the anti-parasitic medication Ivermectin has prompted health officials to warn against using over-the-counter Ivermectin products sold as livestock dewormers to treat the illness.

Dr. Gerald Parker, associate dean in the Texas A&M University College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, cautions that it is dangerous to take Ivermectin products designed for animals as a treatment for COVID-19, and that it should only be used by a person if prescribed by their doctor.

“Ivermectin is approved for use in people, but only in the case of very specific parasitic diseases,” he said. “The products meant for animals have different ingredients and have a larger concentration of the active ingredient that could be dangerous to a human.”

Patients who self-medicated with Ivermectin products used to treat or prevent parasites in horses and cattle have required medical support and even hospitalization, according to the FDA. Ivermectin has not been approved by the FDA to treat or prevent COVID-19.

A health alert issued Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states there has been an increase in calls to poison control centers “reporting overdose and more people experiencing adverse effects” associated with Ivermectin misuse.

Parker said in addition to the risk of overdose, there’s also a possibility that ingredients in the animal-grade drug could interact with other medications people are taking.

“Another concern is that not only does Ivermectin contain much larger concentrations of the active ingredient, but there are also ingredients used in the production of animal medicine that have not been approved for use in humans,” he said. “They either haven’t been evaluated, or they could be in much larger quantities than has been approved for humans.”

Parker, who is also director of the Pandemic and Biosecurity Policy Program at the Bush School of Government and Public Service, reiterates that the main defense against COVID-19 continues to be the vaccination.

Parker has worked on the front lines in Washington, D.C., last year assisting with the vaccine development through Operation Warp Speed, and he also served on the Texas Expert Vaccine Allocation Panel earlier this year helping to organize the state’s vaccine rollout.

“The vaccines work,” Parker said. “They do a great job of reducing your risk of severe disease and death, and when you do have breakthrough infections, they do a great job of helping keep the symptoms to a minimum. The vast majority of people in hospitals with serious cases are from the unvaccinated population.”

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