Stethoscope and a pen on the doctor's table

Doctors are almost always on the line of criticism because some people look up to their profession and expect them to always do their important job perfectly. Over the years, doctors have been criticized not only by their colleagues, but also consumers, patients, and even politicians.

Mistakes would easily tarnish their image. For instance, in the ongoing Paragard lawsuits, doctors were not properly informed about the potential dangers of the device and how to possibly avoid those hazards. Unsurprisingly, aside from the pharmaceutical company who is at fault, they, too, were criticized for continuously recommending the product to women patients despite the claims of adverse effects made against it. 

Today’s article, however, talks about another doctor who was met with criticisms from his colleagues because of a rather unique and intriguing method of medication he suggested for his patients.

As COVID-19 cases and deaths surge in America, one San Antonio doctor is prescribing a head lice medicine which he believes is keeping his COVID-19 patients from being hospitalized. 

Doctor Believes Ivermectin is the Key

Doctor holding a bottle of ivermectin

Dr. Hoan Pho, who specializes in internal medicine,  maintains that when Ivermectin is mixed with other drugs, this medication works wonders for his patients who have contracted COVID-19. 

He points to a study proposing that the anti-parasitic medicine can get rid of the coronavirus within 48 hours in a laboratory setting. 

“It prevents COVID from replicating,” he said. “It also decreases the viral load.”

Dr. Pho started prescribing the drug to his patients last month. Ivermectin is widely available in the country and costs about $20. 

The doctor adds, “About 50-60 patients, there is no hospitalization. Nobody has gotten sicker and has required oxygen to be hospitalized.” 

He was also noted to say that half of those patients were over the age of 65. If they are sick with COVID, he prescribes ivermectin along with a bunch of other supplements and drugs, but he believes the main key to the formula is the ivermectin.

Pho expects that there are people, especially on the field, that will raise their eyebrows to his stories.

“There are going to be doubters out there listening to this story,” he said. “Many of my colleagues are going to question this. But I ask them to read the articles. Now, I feel confident that we have some improving and emerging medications to help the patients.”

Dr. Pho said that there are not much side effects, although a rash or a headache are the most common ones. He advises any patient to talk with their healthcare provider or doctor if they are ever interested in this kind of treatment. 

“I think we need to have more studies,” Dr. Pho adds. “We have to have bigger studies, bigger randomized controlled studies. But the data is there.

Where did all these Ivermectin-for-COVID buzz come from?

Bottles of ivermectin sealed inside a plastic

If you haven’t been living in a cave since the pandemic started, you must have heard a lot about ivermectin for the past few months. The idea did not originate with the San Antonio doctor.

The real reason you’ve been hearing more about ivermectin being linked to COVID lately? The Front Line COVID-19 Critical Care Alliance (FLCCC).

The group, which is led by three physicians, have posted on its website their own meta-analysis and review of the global ivermectin literature. 

In early December, these doctors called for a press conference, and one attended a Senate hearing on early treatments for COVID-19. 

The group maintains that ivermectin has a unique combination of anti-inflammatory and anti-viral properties which makes it useful in preventing early and late-stage illness.

Sounds ridiculous? FLCC Co-leader Paul Marik, MD, Eastern Virginia Medical School in Norfolk’s chief of pulmonary and critical care medicine, begs to differ. He co-authored the meta-analysis and review that’s solely based from studies outside of the U.S.

During a phone interview, Marik said: “People are dying. We treat patients at the bedside. We don’t have the ivory tower syndrome where you tell people what to do though you have no idea what you’re doing.”

Members of the FLCC, most of whom are critical care physicians, says more data is not necessary anymore and argues that it would be unethical to give patients placebo even if the safety of ivermectin has already been established. 

Unsurprisingly, these statements were met with raised eyebrows in the medical field. 

Does the FDA Support the idea of Ivermectin being a cure for COVID?

Photo of ivermectin bottles on the table

The short answer? The FDA says no. More testing is needed to prove this claim. 

Ivermectin is considered to be a harmless drug that is used to treat different types of parasitic infections in animals and humans, including lice, but is not approved by the FDA for other uses. 

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s website, the agency recognizes ivermectin has shown some effectiveness in a laboratory, but more testing is still needed to arrive at a conclusion, as the results obtained from the trials are still limited. 

In a statement, the FDA also said that it is “concerned about the health of consumers who may self-medicate by taking ivermectin products intended for animals, thinking they can be a substitute for ivermectin intended for humans.”

“People should never take animal drugs,” the FDA says. “These animal drugs can cause serious harm in people. People should never take any form of ivermectin unless it has been prescribed to them by a licensed health care provider and is obtained through a legitimate source.”

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