Hospital officials in Washington say Covid patients and their families are asking doctors to prescribe the deworming drug ivermectin as part of their treatment regimens. The drug isn’t recommended by federal or state health authorities for Covid, but patients are asking that it be administered anyway.
Dr. Christopher Baliga from Virginia Mason Franciscan Health in Seattle doesn’t think ivermectin helps people with Covid. But he says the requests are still coming.
“I have been asked, so I know, at least at my hospital, we’ve been asked to give ivermectin. It’s usually a patient or family member who wants it and we say no. There is national guidance not to give it," he said.
The Food and Drug Administration, on its website, has a page devoted to “Why you should not use ivermectin to treat or prevent Covid-19.”
Requests have also been made to doctors at Cascade Medical Center in Leavenworth, said CEO Diane Blake.
“In the case of at least one or two patients, we have received calls from attorneys of these patients, making demands that these patients receive ivermectin," she said.
Some trials exploring the value of ivermectin are underway, but the FDA says there is currently no evidence the drug prevents or effectively treats the coronavirus. Nevertheless, the drug has gained popularity, driven in part by anecdotal claims on social media.
The ivermectin debate has put doctors in a tricky position, says Darin Goss, the chief executive for Providence Health in southwest Washington.
“It’s interesting how we’re finding patients are asking for that ivermectin here and that’s experimental for Covid and yet they’re also concerned about taking the vaccine that wasn’t approved by the FDA. Those requests continue," he said.
And the legal battle may continue as well with doctors who don’t believe in the treatment perhaps put in a position where they’re required to prescribe it anyway.