Brain and other organ damage or purging are among the possible consequences of taking ivermectin for COVID-19 treatment, according to medical professionals online.
Infectious disease doctor Edsel Salvana and some concerned pharmacists issued this warning on social media following the recent calls to approve the anti-parasitic drug for treating COVID-19 patients.
ivermectin for humans is available in the Philippines. However, it is not registered and only for prescription use in treating parasite infestation such as head lice, scabies and some skin conditions.
The registered ivermectin, meanwhile, are veterinary products for preventing and treating parasites in some animal species.
Last month, the country’s Food and Drug Administration and the Department of Health strongly advised against the use of the pharmaceutical product for COVID-19 cure.
Side effects of ivermectin
Salvana, also a member of the DOH’s Technical Advisory Group, cautioned the public of possible purging of parasitic worms should they take ivermectin for COVID-19 prevention.
“Fair warning. If you take Ivermectin for unapproved/unproven ‘COVID-19 prevention,’ we told you this might happen. Assuming you surreptitiously take decent quality Ivermectin, expect an unpleasant surprise in your toilet,” he said in a Facebook post on April 6.
“Many Filipinos are not aware they are infested with worms. Prepare to find out in the most unpleasant way! No, that’s not spaghetti coming out of your butt,” he added.
In an interview with GMA News, the physician also warned that using the drug could also cause brain damage.
“Sa ganyang mataas na dose po, pwede pong magkaroon ng brain damage ang isang tao at pwedeng mamatay kung ma-overdose nang todo todo assuming po na tama ‘yung gamot na nakuha nila,” he said.
In a previous post on April 5, Salvana emphasized that ivermectin cannot be accessed without a prescription, citing that the dosage should be between three to 15 milligrams only.
“Ivermectin is a prescription drug. It cannot be sold or used without a prescription. The usual dose to treat helminthic infections is 3 to 15 mg ONCE only. Higher doses and longer periods of treatment should only be used on the direction of a competent doctor, who will need to explain the risk and benefit of the drug,” he said.
The infectious disease specialist also reiterated the advisories of health organizations against ivermectin’s use for viral infections such as COVID-19.
“The US CDC, WHO, IDSA and PSMID recommend against use of Ivermectin for any viral infection as the current data does not support possible benefit over risk. Talk to your doctor for proper guidance and accountability,” he said.
In the same report of GMA News, another infectious disease expert Dr. Rontgene Solante cited the reason why ivermectin is not recommended for COVID-19 patients.
“We don’t recommend these drugs for patients with COVID. Merong mga (It has) detrimental effects ‘yan, side effects na hindi pa natin alam (that we don’t know yet) that can also damage your liver or kidneys,” he said.
A Facebook community of pharmacists called I Am a Pharmacist also stated that higher doses of animal drugs can result in adverse side effects when humans consumed them.
“Animal drugs often have higher concentrations than human drugs and thus when consumed it may cause serious adverse effects. Ivermectin use may cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, hypotension (low blood pressure), allergic reactions (itching and hives), dizziness, ataxia (problems with balance), seizures, coma and even death,” it said.
Moreover, a Filipino TikTok content creator named Arshie Larga, who is also a registered pharmacist, also shared a video where explained ivermectin in simple Filipino language.
In the TikTok video, Large pointed out that the registered drug is only for medication on animals as treatment and prevention against parasites.
“Ang kasalukuyang aprubadong oral at intravenous preparations ng Ivermectin ay para po sa mga hayop. Ginagamit po ito para gamutin at maiwasang magka-parasitic disease tulad ng heartworm disease ang mga hayop,” he said.
In line with this, Large also noted that the cause of COVID-19 is a virus and not a parasite.
“Tandaan po natin na ang sanhi ng COVID-19 ay isang virus at hindi isang bulate,” he said.
Ano ang Ivermectin at para saan ito ginagamit?💊
— Arshie Larga (@Arshiethromycin) April 6, 2021