Ivermectin overdoses
Hendrik Sybrandy

The Rocky Mountain Poison Center gets 100,000 calls a year from people reporting that they, their family members or pets have ingested something or been exposed to or bitten by something potentially harmful.

"The concern would be like I said would be plastic, if he ingested any of the plastic."

This year, they’ve received 19 calls from people experiencing reactions to the drug ivermectin.

"They say I read about it online and I think this will prevent COVID or I have COVID and I’m trying to treat myself so I don’t have to go to the hospital."

Ivermectin is traditionally used to treat worms in horses and  some parasitic infections in humans. But many have turned to it as an alternative to COVID-19 vaccines. Poison Center director Shireen Banerji says 11 of the 19 Colorado cases came from intentional ingestion and that symptoms can be quite serious. 

"It can affect your CNS, your central nervous system, and your brain, it can cause tremors, hallucinations, even seizures."
"I'm very concerned people are self-treating without any kind of medical guidance and that could lead to trouble."

"It's an amazing drug for river blindness."

David Kroll at the C.U. Anschutz School of Pharmacy says while ivermectin has done wonders for people in Africa and is being studied in relation to COVID-19, there's no science showing it could be helpful during this pandemic.

"I'm not surprised at all. It’s very easy for misinformation to spread amongst a population that already has a mistrust of experts."

"Kroll endorses empowering patients to be partners in their own health care. He says patients have helped drive advances in areas like HIV care in the past."

But as with the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine, he says organizations like this one, powered by social media, have led the vaccine skeptical astray. 

"People are tapping into the sort of anti-pharmaceutical company mentality where of course they want you to get the vaccine because they're making billions of dollars."

The Front Line COVID-19 Critical Care Alliance did not respond to a request for comment.

"I think the misinformation should be corrected and I think providers who are being asked by their patients for prescriptions need to really think hard, is this safe, is this effective, is this going to help my patient?"

Livestock suppliers have also seen ivermectin fly off the shelves. Large doses fit for horses have led to some human overdoses.

"It makes me worry that the resolution of the pandemic is going to be prolonged by people pursuing incompletely tested hypotheses."

He says vaccines remain the best COVID-fighters out there. But the calls keep coming. 

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