NEW ORLEANS — It's a pandemic controversy being argued on social media.
It's over the drug for people and animals called Ivermectin. Some doctors are prescribing it to treat COVID, while others say it's dangerous. Still, veterinary doses are selling out at feed stores.
In March, Edward Lucarini caught the coronavirus.
“I started to feel symptomatic, feverish started and fatigue. I was a little concerned because I'm diabetic,” said Edward Lucarini, 60, of Long Island.
His brother-in-law, emergency medicine physician Dr. Paul Harch, prescribed Ivermectin.
“Within three hours, the fever broke and I had the energy to get up and shave and shower,” Lucarini said.
Ivermectin has long been around to treat parasites on your skin and internally. Veterinarians often use it. Dogs take it to prevent heartworms. Dr. Harch believes studies show it can act as an antiviral against COVID and prescribed an exact dose off label for his relative.
“I see overwhelming evidence that it can affect patients in a beneficial way and their outcome, An international coalition of doctors has assembled this information from many, many randomized trials,” Dr. Harch said.
But other doctors don't recommend it. Infectious disease specialist Dr. Brobson Lutz says it's for bedbugs and scabies, not COVID.
Ochsner infectious disease physician Dr. Sandy Kemmerly says studies that went viral on the internet were done in test tubes, where 250 times a normal human dose was used and they were later considered fraudulent.
“Newer meta-analysis, so that looked at a number of studies which has been recently peer-reviewed and published, shows there's absolutely no data to support its use to treat COVID,” Dr. Kemmerly said.
Dr. Josh Denson is the Tulane Medical Director of Critical Care and Pulmonology. He is doing COVID research and caring for ICU patients. He agrees with Dr. Kemmerly.
“Today, I was talking to someone who was prescribed Ivermectin in another state and now is in the ICU on a ventilator. I would not recommend it for me, myself or my family. I wouldn't recommend anybody else taking it right now for COVID-19,” Dr. Denson said.
Doctors say it delays being treated with medications shown to help, such as Regeneron infusions. And they say Ivermectin can be dangerous.
“In Mississippi, where 70% of their calls to poison control were from citizens taking the horse and the cow, the veterinary preparations, of Ivermectin,” Dr. Kemmerly said.
But all the doctors agree, don't ever just pick a dose and medicate yourself with anything, without your doctor's trained advice.
The Louisiana Department of Health, The Infectious Disease Society of America, FDA, CDC, and WHO, have all come out against the use of Ivermectin for COVID-19.