Ivermectin doesn't work against COVID, top Alabama doctors say
Five of Alabama's most prominent physicians agreed on a video call that using the drug ivermectin to try to treat or prevent COVID-19 is just a bad idea.
"The drug doesn't work against COVID, full stop," said Dr. Michael Saag, an infectious disease specialist at UAB. "You might read on the internet that it works. I'm sorry, that's wrong."
Ivermectin is a drug approved for use in humans to treat illnesses caused by parasites. It's also widely used on animals as a de-worming agent for horses, cows, sheep or other large animals. Demand for the drug has sky-rocketed in recent weeks, thanks largely to rumors of its effectiveness against COVID-19. Meanwhile calls to poison control centers in Alabama and Mississippi have skyrocketed, thanks to people ingesting the form of ivermectin that is intended for use on animals.
"I've personally seen quite a few patients come into the emergency room sick from it," said Dr. David Thrasher, a pulmonologist in Montgomery.
Thrasher and Saag participated in the call with Dr. John Meigs, Alabama State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris and Dr. Aruna Arora, president of the Medical Association of the State of Alabama. None said they thought ivermectin was a good idea for COVID patients.
That's in line with a warning from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration released last week titled "Why you should not use ivermectin to treat or prevent COVID-19."
Merck, the drug company that makes ivermectin and profits from sales of the drug even issued a statement that it was not recommended for use in COVID-19 patients.
The drug-maker said in its statement that it had found "no scientific basis" that the drug was beneficial to COVID patients, and "a concerning lack of safety data in the majority of studies" examining the potential use of ivermectin on COVID patients.
Thrasher said his clinic used to prescribe ivermectin (and hydroxychloroquine) to COVID patients, but has stopped as newer studies have shown both drugs to be ineffective at treating COVID.