Rowan Health Department warns against unprescribed uses of ivermectin

Published 2:27 pm Thursday, September 9, 2021

SALISBURY — Rowan County Health Director Alyssa Harris is encouraging people to only take prescribed medications for COVID-19 after seeing local cases of ivermectin poisoning.

Ivermectin is approved for human use to treat infections caused by parasitic worms, head lice and some skin conditions, the Food and Drug Administration says. The FDA says it hasn’t been proven effective against COVID-19.

Ivermectin is used in medicines intended for livestock, but the FDA says people should never take medicines intended for animals. The FDA advises filling prescriptions through a legitimate source and taking ivermectin exactly as prescribed.

“We need to encourage everyone that if they are sick to only take prescribed medications for their illness,” Harris said. “We are seeing some cases of ivermectin poisoning from individuals going off prescription. We understand that getting COVID-19 is scary and that folks want to do what they can to treat themselves and prevent hospitalization. However, we really, really do not want to see preventable poisoning on top of our emergency department trying to manage the very ill COVID patients.”

Neither the Health Department nor Novant Health, which operates Rowan Medical Center, had specific data about the number of local poisonings due to ivermectin. Rowan County Emergency Services wasn’t able to find any calls for help associated with ivermectin in its system.

Nationally, the American Association of Poison Control Centers reported 459 ivermectin cases in August, which was nearly eight times the number one year ago. There were 133 cases across the country in July, which was about two times the number one year earlier.

In a statement, spokeswoman Robin Baltimore said the health care company is looking to the FDA, National Institutes of Health and Infectious Diseases Society of America for recommendations on COVID-19 medications and treatment options.

“In line with federal guidelines, Novant Health does not recommend using ivermectin for COVID-19 treatment or prophylaxis. Active research that is ongoing will be reviewed when available after peer-review,” Baltimore said.

Tractor Supply, which has a location on Jake Alexander Boulevard, says its stores received a sign to place in stores to advise customers about ivermectin. The sign states that ivermectin is an active ingredient in some products, including select dewormers and injectables.

“Ivermectin has not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration for use in treating and preventing COVID-19 in humans and could cause severe personal injury or death,” the sign states. “These products are only suitable for animals and are clearly labeled as such.”

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