A New York Times report on the demand for a deworming drug that some people erroneously believe can prevent or treat COVID opens with an anecdote that's likely repeated in doctors' offices across the country: The story of a San Antonio doctor who says he's asked to prescribe the drug by clients daily. He refuses. Some doctors clearly do not. The Times reports the number of prescriptions for ivermectin has surged to 88,000 per week as of mid-month. Prior to the pandemic, the drug that's typically used to combat parasitic worms was prescribed about 3,600 times a week. The drug is most commonly used by livestock. Humans are sometimes prescribed small amounts to deal with parasites like lice and scabies. More:
- Limited availability. With some pharmacies unable to get the drug, some people are reportedly sourcing it from livestock supply stores, where it can be sold in highly concentrated forms, raising fears of overdoses.
- Court orders it. An Ohio judge last Monday ruled that West Chester Hospital must treat a COVID patient currently on a ventilator with ivermectin. Jeffrey Smith, 51, has been in the ICU since July 15. Wife Julie Smith, who says he has only a 30% chance of survival, successfully obtained the court order requiring her husband be given 30 milligrams of ivermectin daily for three weeks, reports Cincinnati.com.
- What the FDA thinks. See this Aug. 21 tweet: "You are not a horse. You are not a cow. Seriously, y'all. Stop it."
- Rand Paul steps in. Paul on Friday suggested politics were getting in the way of clinical trials, reports Cincinnati.com: "The hatred for Trump deranged these people so much, that they're unwilling to objectively study" ivermectin. "So someone like me that's in the middle on it, I can't tell you because they will not study ivermectin. They will not study hydroxychloroquine without the taint of their hatred for Donald Trump."
- About those trials. At Gizmodo, Ed Cara presents a thorough backstory on the drug, writing that while many have scoffed at it lately, it's actually "considered one of the most essential medicines we have by the World Health Organization." The effectiveness with which it can treat a broad range of parasites has led doctors to wonder whether it might have other uses. So far, though, there are no results that suggest it's effective against COVID.
- About those trials, II. One more interesting note from Cara: The human body isn't great at absorbing ivermectin, which isn't an issue since you don't need much to kill parasites. Killing the coronavirus would be a different story, and he writes that "some scientists have argued [it] would probably require a much higher dose than could ever be safely used in people."
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