Letter to the Editor: Ivermectin poisoning increase should raise concern
The nationwide system of 55 Poison Control Centers expedites emergency medical care to poisoning cases, preserves incidence records and provides poison prevention information.
In response to the pandemic, control center data analysis brought early attention to poisoning from unapproved, would-be-preventative drugs — especially a family of chloroquine compounds used for treating malaria and arthritis.
Now, The American Association of Poison Control Centers has issued four bulletins concerning some other self-administered drugs that poison the users who apply them inappropriately.
The bulletins show incidences of four poisoning agents in 2019 and 2022, each during the four-month late winter and early spring season. Three of the poison varieties are common household items: bleach, disinfectants and hand sanitizers. The fourth is ivermectin, normally used for livestock and human parasite eradication.
Bleach serves as a general control indicator of misuse. Incidence data show that bleach poisoning changed little between the years while poisoning due to the others increased markedly. Moreover, while disinfectants and sanitizers generally had only minor medical outcomes, ivermectin cases had more serious detrimental effects, including deaths.
Although the bulletins’ matter-of-fact style does not make direct comparisons between the study drugs, intuitive readers can do so. A reasonable interpretation is that the evidence supports the view that home remedy approaches to COVID-19 prevention are foolhardy. None of the compounds studied here are FDA-approved for COVID-19 prevention.
I cite this study because the ongoing dialogue here about COVID-19 prevention indicates that some county residents practice the risky behavior of using unproven drugs for prevention. Besides the personal risk element, these incautious citizens can spread the disease and become community burdens when requiring emergency and hospital response services.
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