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Calls to Ky. Poison Control Center over ivermectin have increased

Published: Sep. 1, 2021 at 6:08 PM EDT
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - Health experts say you get the best protection from COVID-19 from the vaccine. But some people are trying other drugs meant for livestock instead of humans.

Kentucky’s Poison Control Center said despite all the warnings about ivermectin meant for livestock, they are still receiving calls from people who have taken it as a treatment for COVID-19.

During his briefing Monday, Gov. Andy Beshear talked about the spread of misinformation that was having some unexpected consequences.

“Remember, if you’re thinking about taking horse medication, they don’t have arms. Right? I mean, they’re entirely different than you and I are,” Gov. Beshear said.

But, according to Kentucky’s Poison Control Center, people are taking the version of ivermectin meant for horses. Their director said they’ve received calls for 11 cases this year, but there are likely more.

“Any time that we see a trend of increasing calls we know that that’s an increase in the community as well. And from a few healthcare providers who have called us with patients who reported to the emergency department, we heard offhand from nurses say ‘We’re seeing a lot of this,’” Ashley Webb said.

Ivermectin is used to treat parasites in humans, but it requires a prescription. There is a version for livestock, but the formula is vastly different.

“Horses, I mean, weigh over 1,000 pounds. The average human weighs 170 pounds. So the dosage forms are different. The pharmaceutical grade of the product is different. It’s just nuts,” said Dr. Frank Romanelli, professor of pharmacy at the University of Kentucky.

Tractor Supply temporarily removed ivermectin from their shelves. They’ve since returned it with a warning.

The owner of The Pharmacy Shop on Southland Drive said in addition to questions about the drug, he has seen an increase in prescriptions from doctors.

“We may fill a prescription for ivermectin every couple of months. So when you start getting two or three a week of them, and that doesn’t sound like a high quantity of anything. It’s not like you’re getting a flood of narcotics or something. But, relative to what you normally get, it’s definitely an increase,” Clarence Sullivan said.

Romanelli said the best protection against COVID, was still the vaccine.

“Vaccines were never created to prevent infection. The vaccines were created to prevent severe disease in hospitalization and death. And they are doing that. Very, very effectively,” Dr. Romanelli said.

Webb told us they did have 10 calls connected to ivermectin in 2020. She said nine of those were accidental exposures while giving it to an animal. And the other was not connected to COVID.

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