Medical experts warn of Ivermectin overdose

Medical practitioners have expressed concern over the number of people who have been admitted to the hospital for overdosing on Ivermectin, an antiparasitic drug that is now being locally used to treat Covid-19.

People started using Ivermectin after the previous surge of Covid-19 cases where there was an increase in patients who developed moderate or severely ill cases that required advanced medical care.

Due to the rise of Covid-19 cases, there was social media promotion of unethical use of a number of medicines such as Ivermectin to protect against the fast spreading virus.

The use of Ivermectin was also lobbied for by general medical practitioners who implored the government to allow and facilitate use of the drug for treatment of Covid-19 patients, setting themselves on a collision course with public health physicians who warned the drug was not certified locally to be used against the new coronavirus.

Physician and epidemiologist, Rashida Abbas Ferrand, based in Zimbabwe noted people were overdosing on Ivermectin, as they were using it without scientifically backed data.

“Patients have been admitted to hospital with Ivermectin severe adverse effects following “overdoses”- the danger of using drugs for which there is no data on correct dose and whether it works or not-importance of regulating how drugs should be used,” she said on her Twitter page.

Prof Ferrand is a clinical epidemiologist and a Wellcome Trust Senior Fellow in Clinical Science at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM).

Another local physician, Kham Kidia also responded that it was concerning how a number of people were taking ivermectin to treat Covid-19.

“Most of my friends and family are taking ‘prophylactic’ ivermectin for Covid-19. Several have gotten quite sick. I can’t tell you how concerning it has been to me,” he said.

In Zimbabwe, Ivermectin is currently registered for veterinary use only, with a few exceptions of external use on humans and the Zimbabwe College of Public Health Physicians (ZCPHP) warned that hype over  this drug is irresponsible, as more evidence on its effectiveness was needed.

However, GPs asked the health ministry to facilitate the importation of Ivermectin for those clinicians who wish to use it, requesting they be allowed to treat patients “ethically, safely and effectively with the best evidence that we have.”

Doctors said they “had come to understand what does and doesn’t work in the treatment and prevention of Covid-19.”

The Ministry of Health and Child Care then approved the use of the anti-parasitic drug for the treatment of Covid-19.

But, Chief Coordinator for the National response to Covid-19 pandemic in the Office of the President and Cabinet, Dr Agnes Mahomva, said all medicines must be registered with the Medicine Control Authority of Zimbabwe before they can be used or prescribed to patients.

“Let me remind the public, medical doctors and other medical care workers that all medicines whether new old medicines, routine medicine or investigational medicine – all must be registered with the medicine control authority of Zimbabwe before they can be used or prescribed,” Dr Mahomva said then.

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