New Mexico investigating suspected fatal poisoning from ivermectin
Category: News & PoliticsVia: jbb • one week ago • 33 comments
By: Algernon D'Ammassa (Las Cruces Sun-News)
Acting Health Secretary Scrase decries false information stoking drug's 'cult following'
Algernon D'AmmassaLas Cruces Sun-News
DEMING - New Mexico's acting Health Secretary came down hard Wednesday on unfounded claims that the drug Ivermectin is a suitable treatment for COVID-19 disease.
During a weekly update on the state's COVID-19 cases and response, state Human Services Secretary Dr. David Scrase, temporarily heading the state health department as well, said clinicians were investigating what was likely the state's first fatal case of an individual dosing themselves with the drug, while a suspected second case was in critical condition.
"I'd like people to know, if they're out there taking it, it can kill them," Scrase said.
'You are not a horse.' FDA warns against use of ivermectin as a treatment for COVID-19
He stressed that it might take weeks to confirm that ivermectin was the cause of the individual's death, but his expectation was that it would be confirmed, while another severely ill patient was suspected of taking the drug.
That patient was being treated in an ICU bed at a time when the state's hospital system is on the cusp of crisis standards of care, with some hospitals overfull and ICU beds and ventilators in short supply.
Scrase did not provide the locations of the cases or other details.
Ivermectin not approved for COVID-19 treatment
Ivermectin is occasionally prescribed for humans in specific doses for certain parasitic worms, skin conditions and head lice, either in pills or topical agents, according to the Food and Drug Administration.
It is also used in veterinary medicine for treating parasites in livestock and dogs. Formulations for treating animals, being highly concentrated, often prove toxic for humans. The New Mexico Department of Health also reports it can interact with other human medications and induce symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, reduced blood pressure and other side effects.
During the summer wave of COVID-19 cases driven by the highly contagious delta variant, more states have reported treatment of patients, including hospitalizations, for self-dosing of ivermectin. Overdoses of the drug are associated with seizures, coma and death.
It is not an antiviral drug and the FDA has not approved it for treatment of COVID-19.
Poison control centers see spike in calls about ivermectin
During the pandemic, however, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported that pharmacies are seeing spikes in demand for the drug, including veterinary formulations, leading to a tripling of calls to poison control centers.
While initial research into potential benefits as a treatment is underway, the National Institutes of Health said in February "there is insufficient evidence … to recommend either for or against the use of ivermectin for the treatment of COVID-19" absent rigorous clinical trials.
"There's a cult following for this drug," Scrase said Wednesday. "We don't think there's evidence for it to be effective in treating COVID by any stretch of the imagination."
Southern New Mexico congresswoman Yvette Herrell, a Republican, is the state's highest elected official who has advocated for researching the drug and has accused Democrats of playing politics with medicine.
During an appearance Tuesday outside Holloman Air Force Base, Herrell was asked about ivermectin and replied, "I'm a huge proponent, under a doctor's orders, to try whatever other alternative there is."
Fact check:Ivermectin is not a proven treatment for COVID-19
'Don't take this medicine'
Pressed on the FDA's recommendation that it not be used as a treatment for COVID-19, Herrell replied, "We have over 180 million Americans that were vaccinated with a vaccine that wasn't FDA approved, so I think we should have options to whatever we want through the consultation of our doctors."
The three vaccines in use in the United States for COVID-19 received emergency use authorizations by the FDA in a process that involves rigorous clinical trials. The first of those to receive full approval was the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine approved on Aug. 23.
As of Wednesday, the CDC reported that 177 million Americans had completed a course of vaccine, while 208 million had received at least the initial dose of a two-shot vaccine or the single-dose Johnson and Johnson product.
Scrase decried widespread confusion and misinformation involving ivermectin and other non-approved treatments as well as COVID-19 vaccines.
"If you're a human being and you can hear this press conference, don't take this medicine," Scrase said.
Cases of ivermectin poisoning should be reported to the state poison control center via 800-222-1222, he said.
Algernon D'Ammassa can be reached at 575-541-5451, firstname.lastname@example.org or @AlgernonWrites on Twitter.
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