PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- Banner Health is seeing a rise in poison calls related to people using the drug Ivermectin to treat COVID-19, in a latest update from Dr. Marjorie Bessel.
In August alone, the Banner Health Poison and Drug Information Center managed 10 cases of people using Ivermectin to treat COVID-19 symptoms. So far this year, they have received 30 calls related to Ivermectin use. Seven of those 30 cases have required hospitalization. The Arizona Poison Control System in Tucson has also seen an increase in Ivermectin cases, with 20 calls so far this year.
According to data from the National Poison Data System (NDPS), there have been 1,143 Ivermectin exposure cases in the U.S. so far this year. This is a 163% increase from 2020, which reported 435 total case counts. The month of August saw 459 cases concerning Ivermectin across the country, compared to last year's 58 cases.
"Ivermectin is not usually something that our poison center gets many calls about, so this is very concerning to us to see this growing trend," said Dr. Bessel.
Ivermectin is commonly as a prescribed antiparasitic medication given to animals. Dr. Bessel says there is no information that Ivermectin is safe to use for people or if it is effective to treat the virus. The FDA recently said Ivermectin for animals is prepared differently, and should never be used on people. Dr. Bessel says Banner will not prescribe Ivermectin at any of their hospitals.
"Even the levels of Ivermectin approved for human use to treat non-COVID conditions can interact with other medications, leading to health complications," added Dr. Bessel.
Store owners say they normally order a couple of dozen packs of the drug and that would last a month. Now, they're ordering cases of 100 that are gone in a couple of weeks.
Banner Health is recommending that the public should not take Ivermectin since it is not FDA approved and there are no clear findings for using the drug as treatment. The health care provider previously warned that the horse de-wormer can cause "significant illness in humans."
"Clinical trials are ongoing to assess the effectiveness of Ivermectin for COVID, but at this time, there are no clear findings that have been released that confirm that this drug is safe or an effective form of treatment or prophylaxis for COVID," said Dr. Bessel.
Arizona's Family previously reported that the drug is flying off store shelves in the Valley. "It goes off so fast now that we can't even get it because our suppliers are out," said Western Ranchman's co-owner Dottie Francisco.
If you or someone you know accidentally ingests Ivermectin, contact the American Association of Poison Control Centers at 800-222-1222 for help.
Editor's Note: The story has been updated to the correct number of calls related to Ivermectin.