Wisconsin doctors asking people to stop taking animal drug to treat COVID-19 at home

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) - The FDA is asking people to stop taking an unauthorized drug to treat COVID-19 after an increase in calls at poison centers.

Some people are taking a drug called "Ivermectin" to try and treat COVID-19 at home. The problem is, the dosage they are taking is meant for livestock.

"If you get COVID, go to your doctor," Dr. David Gummin said.

Dr. David Gummin with the Wisconsin Poison Center said the center has had 17 calls about Ivermectin this year ---which is up from 10 during the same period last year.

"Mostly people have digestive effects. Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea," Dr. Gummin said.

He is seeing people buying and taking the dosage of the drug meant to de-worm livestock like cows and horses, which is available online.

"I think many are going to the internet to try to get answers and to try to learn. Others are going to the internet to shop and of course many, many things that are toxic are available," Dr. Gummin said.

Dr. Gummin said there are a small amount of unsubstantiated studies suggesting Ivermectin can treat COVID-19. The dosage meant for humans is only FDA approved to treat rare parasites -- not COVID-19.

"I think those have led to people's curiosity and their decision to try and take them," Dr. Gummin said.

UW Health has also seen a handful of people calling the hospital after taking the drug.

"They might've read that the drug is beneficial and not realizing the difference between the human and the animal dose," Dr. Nasia Safdar said.

Dr. Nasia Safdar is the medical director for infection prevention at UW Health. She said there is not enough evidence showing Ivermectin is useful to treat COVID-19. She said no doctors in the state are administering it either for the virus.

"It currently does not have a role in the COVID treatment guidelines," Dr. Safdar said.

Dr. Gummin said he hasn't seen anyone have severe reactions yet, but if you or someone you know ingests Ivermectin, call the poison center right away.

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