Carrefour doctor and pharmacist comment on ivermectin as a treatment for COVID-19 | Health
Dr Steven Gartzman, who has been a doctor since 1993, said ivermectin is rarely prescribed in emergencies.
But these days, Gartzman sees a patient at Victoria ER, an independent emergency medical center on Navarro Street in Victoria, about once a week who wants to take the drug as protection against COVID-19.
After a year and a half of debates over public health measures such as masks and vaccines, the safety and effectiveness of ivermectin as a treatment for COVID-19 has become the latest high-profile controversy in the pandemic . Interest in the drug has increased as public figures like popular podcast host Joe Rogan and, on Saturday, former Lt. Col. Allen West, a candidate for governor of Texas, announced they were taking ivermectin to treat their symptoms of COVID-19.
This has been greeted with dismay by doctors like Gartzman, who warn that taking the drug in the wrong form or in the wrong dosage could cause serious side effects, and point out that there are other safe and effective treatments.
âThere is no reason to take ivermectin,â said Gartzman, who also works at Memorial Hermann Hospital in Houston, in an interview. âThere are very safe and very effective alternatives. “
Nevertheless, in Victoria and the surrounding area, some doctors are prescribing ivermectin to their COVID-19 patients. The lawyer contacted six doctors to ask them questions about the drug, including at least one who allegedly prescribed ivermectin, but all except Gartzman declined to be questioned or did not respond. .
Ivermectin comes in many forms, each with very different uses.
The first, which was already familiar to many ranchers before the pandemic, is a livestock medicine used to deworm cows and horses. The drug, which is sold in many farm supply and feed stores, can be given to animals by injection or by pouring it onto the animal’s back, according to Dawn Otto, owner and manager of Otto’s Coastal. Hay in Victoria.
The ingestion of this form of ivermectin by humans has alarmed doctors, and Gartzman said it could be “harmful or fatal.”
“The animal form of Ivermectin is in doses over 100 times (the human form) – extremely concentrated. It is a very, very high dose because you are dealing with animals that weigh a lot more than humans.” , Gartzman said.
The Texas Poison Control Center reported an increase in the number of calls related to the ingestion of ivermectin this year, according to a press release issued in August by the Texas Department of State Health Services.
Statewide, there were 159 calls related to ivermectin ingestion from January 1 to August 24, including 64 in August, up from 48 calls in 2020. 55% of those calls were related to people who had took the drug in an attempt. to treat COVID-19. The press release did not specify what form of medication was taken in these cases.
Otto agreed that it is not wise for people to ingest the animal version of ivermectin.
âIt’s not a good idea,â she said. âI just know it’s an animal product. It is stated there, unlabeled for human use.
In addition to livestock dewormer, there are at least two forms of ivermectin commonly used for treatment in humans. In 1996, the Food and Drug Administration approved ivermectin for the treatment of roundworms and river blindness, a tropical disease transmitted by blackflies, according to Merck, the drug’s maker.
There is also a topical form of the medication which can be rubbed into the skin to treat rosacea and lice. In that case, the drug would usually be recommended by a dermatologist, Gartzman said.
Neither form of the drug has been approved by the FDA to treat COVID-19, but there are about 70 ongoing clinical trials to test the drug’s effectiveness, according to an editorial in the Wall Street Journal. This article said that these trials showed promising results.
However, Gartzman said he was not yet aware of extensive, well-controlled and peer-reviewed studies that support the effectiveness of ivermectin against COVID-19.
State and federal agencies still advise against taking ivermectin in any form to treat COVID-19. Potential side effects of the drug can include rash, nausea, diarrhea, stomach pain, and swelling of the face or limbs, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services. In combination with other drugs, such as blood thinners, the drug can cause vomiting, low blood pressure, seizures, coma, and death.
Bill Yeager, a longtime pharmacist who works at Palacios Prescription Shoppe, a pharmacy in Palacios, said he knows about a dozen people who have taken ivermectin to prevent or treat COVID-19, and he also knows at least one doctor who is prescribing the drug.
“If you knew you were exposed, you could get a prescription for ivermectin, take five pills a week for five weeks, and you’re supposed to be past the time you would have a reaction to COVID,” Yeager said.
Some of the people he knows who have taken ivermectin have not developed symptoms of COVID-19, he said.
But Yeager also said he’s worried about his friends and neighbors self-healing with ivermectin, especially the cattle version, as they risk ingesting a harmful dose. He also said he believes some doctors might prescribe ivermectin so they can at least exert some control over how much of the drug their patients take.
“I think they’d rather see them on something that they can control a little bit and know the exact dose they’re getting, rather than seeing someone take a syringe and squirt it in their mouth hoping they will. don’t overdose, âYeager said.
While the effectiveness of ivermectin as a COVID-19 treatment is still under investigation, there are already other safe and effective COVID-19 treatment options, Gartzman and Yeager said.
This includes COVID-19 vaccines, as well as monoclonal antibodies, a one-time treatment for people whose symptoms do not require hospitalization, and other drugs like remdesivir and dexamethasone that are typically given in a hospital setting, said Gartzman.
Another potential treatment, a drug developed by Merck called molnupiravir, which is taken as a pill, is in advanced stages of study and may soon be approved by the FDA.
Much of the information available on the internet about ivermectin is unreliable, Yeager said.
âThere has been so much pure shit that has been put on the internet,â he said. “But a lot of people believe it.”
âI can’t stress enough to the general public, don’t drink Kool-Aid,â he said.
Mark Rosenberg reports on local, regional and breaking news for the Victoria Advocate as a member of the Report for America corps. He can be reached at email@example.com or 361-574-1264 or on Twitter at @ markrosenberg32. To support local journalism at Advocate through Report for America, visit VictoriaAdvocate.com/report.