JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) – As the Mississippi State Department of Health clamps down on an alarming influx of Mississippians trying to protect themselves from COVID-19 by using medication meant for horses and cows, the drug’s prescription counterpart of the same name continues to be prescribed in the state despite no conclusive evidence from experts that the human version of the drug works.
Friday morning, MSDH notified medical professionals around the state of a substantial increase in people calling the Mississippi Poison Control Center because they had taken ivermectin purchased at livestock supply stores.
While most had mild symptoms, one individual was told to be evaluated for taking a larger dose of the drug, typically used to treat heartworms and parasites in animals.
“One of my patients was telling me that they’re positive for COVID. And that they had been taking ivermectin from the feed store,” said Dr. Mark Horne, who practices in Laurel. “I told him, please, don’t ever take ivermectin from the feed store. It’s not designed for humans. It’s not meant for humans. It’s dangerous for you to do. So yes, it’s happening across the state.”
One reason it’s happening, Horne said, is because some don’t know that the drug of the same name is different for animals than it is for people, engineered to be more concentrated and formulated differently.
Even so, Horne said the version for people is being prescribed in Mississippi and not in secret, despite what some Facebook comments allege, and physicians will not get their license suspended for doing it.
“It’s legal for your physician to write ivermectin off label, [but] I do not believe it is advisable,” Horne said. “I’ve got colleagues who write it. But I will say that the science does not support that off label use of ivermectin, it just doesn’t.”
Horne said there’s no evidence the prescription version of ivermectin helps prevent or treat COVID-19, and points to the vaccine and monoclonal antibodies as examples of proven measures that work.
Why do some doctors and nurse practitioners prescribe ivermectin anyway?
“They were doing it in part because that’s what their patients wanted. And they felt that it was harmless. And so, you know, we’ve all given someone an antibiotic when they weren’t really sure that they needed [it]. when the physician felt, you probably don’t need it, but the patient really wanted it,” Horne said.
At the same time, Horne believes that decision could be detrimental if a patient suffers as a result.
“I’m not an attorney, and I didn’t stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night, but I do hang around enough attorney friends,” Horne said. “If there is proven treatment available, and you choose to bypass it in favor of an unproven treatment, and there’s a bad outcome, in my experience, that’s what they call malpractice.”
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