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Ivermectin Should Not Be Used To Treat COVID-19, Health Officials Warn

Ivermectin at Murdoch’s Ranch & Home Supply in Columbia Falls, MT, August 31, 2021.
Aaron Bolton
Montana Public Radio
Ivermectin at Murdoch’s Ranch & Home Supply in Columbia Falls, MT, August 31, 2021.

Montana state health officials are warning Montanans that taking horse dewormer to treat COVID-19 is dangerous. A handful of Montanans have found themselves in the emergency room after taking the drug falsely touted as a cure-all for COVID.

The Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services put out a warning earlier this week telling county health officials and medical providers that there’s been a significant spike nationwide in the use of ivermectin because of people using it to treat COVID-19, a use that’s not approved by federal drug regulators.

The drug has some approved uses for humans like treating head lice and intestinal parasites. But ivermectin is also commonly used to deworm large animals like horses and can be found in many feed supply stores.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, prescriptions for ivermectin from pharmacies have increased 24-fold this summer compared to pre-pandemic levels, and calls to poison control hotlines across the country have spiked five-fold, in part due to people taking veterinarian products containing ivermectin.

The CDC warns that these products have high concentrations of the drug due to their intended use for large animals and may also contain other products not approved by federal drug regulators.

A spokesperson with DPHHS says so far in 2021, seven people have gone to Montana emergency rooms due to ivermectin use, many of which took the drug thinking it would treat COVID-19. Montana Poison Control has received an equal number of calls related to ivermectin poisonings.

Aaron Bolton is Montana Public Radio's Flathead Valley reporter.
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