The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday that it had seen an increase in the sale of a drug commonly used to treat parasitic worms in both humans and cattle for use in treating COVID-19.
The CDC also added that it had seen a subsequent rise in calls to poison control centers as more and more people overdose on the drug.
According to the CDC, Ivermectin is commonly prescribed orally in humans to treat ailments like head lice, parasitic worms and rosacea, though it's also prescribed as injections and creams for use in cattle. While the National Institutes of Health has conducted observation studies for its effectiveness in preventing and treating COVID-19, there is insufficient data to determine whether the drug can actually fight the virus.
Though the FDA has not approved it for treatment with COVID-19, Ivermectin has been touted as a miracle cure by some in conservative media. As a result, the CDC says sales of the drug have skyrocketed. In fact, cattle feed stores across the country have reported selling out of the drug.
In a press release Thursday, the CDC says 88,000 prescriptions for Ivermectin were distributed for the week ending Aug. 13 — a 24-fold increase from the pre-pandemic levels.
Because the drug is not approved for use in treating COVID-19, those taking the drugs are determining their own dosage — often with disastrous results.
The CDC noted that one adult went to the hospital after drinking Ivermectin formula that was meant to be injected into cattle. A second patient took five Ivermectin tablets a day for five days straight before ending up in the hospital.
In July, poison control centers across the country saw a "five-fold increase" in the number of calls linked to Ivermectin overdoses, incidents that oftentimes end with emergency room visits.
The CDC also noted that Ivermectin products designed for large animals are particularly harmful to humans, as they're "highly concentrated" and contain inactive ingredients that have not been studied in humans.
According to the CDC, patients who take Ivermectin may experience "gastrointestinal effects, headache, blurred vision, dizziness, tachycardia, hypotension, visual hallucinations, altered mental status, confusion, loss of coordination and balance, central nervous system depression, and seizures."
The FDA and CDC both maintain that the best protection against COVID-19 is vaccination. The Pfizer vaccine was recently granted full FDA approval, and the two other vaccines — Moderna and Johnson & Johnson — are proven to be safe and effective.
Earlier this month, the CDC reported that 99.99% of people who have been vaccinated against the virus have avoided a severe or deadly case of COVID-19.