The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has a message for anyone considering taking ivermectin to treat or prevent COVID-19: Don’t.
The FDA said ivermectin is not an antiviral drug, meaning it isn’t used for treating viruses. It’s only approved for use in humans to combat certain internal conditions caused by parasitic worms and external parasites like headlice.
Certain forms of ivermectin are given to animals to prevent heartworm disease and other parasites. Even so, some people have experimented with the version of the drug intended for horses.
They ended up being hospitalized.
"It’s important to note that these products are different from the ones for people, and safe when used as prescribed for animals, only," FDA stressed in a news release.
A health worker shows a box containing a bottle of Ivermectin. (Photo by LUIS ROBAYO/AFP via Getty Images)
The FDA encourages those with a prescription to get ivermectin from a legitimate source and to take it as prescribed. Overdosing can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, low blood pressure, allergic reactions, dizziness, problems with balance, seizures, coma and even death.
"There’s a lot of misinformation around, and you may have heard that it’s okay to take large doses of ivermectin," the FDA said. "That is wrong."
Throughout the pandemic, small numbers of people have tried to prevent COVID-19 with dangerous methods after being influenced by misinformation.
In January, a British woman and her children drank their urine for four days because a trusted, yet misinformed friend told her it would prevent them from catching the novel coronavirus.
Most notably, former President Donald Trump came under fire last spring when he mused aloud about injecting disinfectant as a way to prevent a coronavirus infection. Despite pleas from health officials, political rivals and bleach manufacturers, officials began reporting cases of people drinking cleaning products just days later.
Those looking for effective ways to prevent infection should follow the FDA’s recommendations, which include wearing a mask, social distancing and hand washing.
They’ve also approved vaccines manufactured by Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson. Check with your state’s guidelines for eligibility.
This story was reported from Atlanta.