A Sydney COVID-19 patient is recovering from a self-inflicted bout of diarrhoea and vomiting brought on by an unproven drug, health officials say, the latest round in a battle against self-medicating Australians.
Westmead Hospital toxicologist Associate Professor Naren Gunja said the patient arrived at the emergency department recently having overdosed on Ivermectin and other “supposed COVID ‘cures'” ordered online.
It was the latest in a range of home doctor experiments gone wrong — with substances including hydroxychloroquine, disinfectants, bleach and alcohols — to require treatment at the western Sydney facility.
The patient was recovering at home after leaving hospital without serious complications but the incident sparked yet another warning for Australian COVID-19 sufferers not to self-medicate, particularly with Ivermectin.
“There’s no evidence to support the use of Ivermectin to treat COVID-19. Don’t look for magic cures online, and don’t rely on what’s being peddled on the internet, because none of them work.”
The drug, used widely on farm animals and with no proven evidence it works against COVID-19, is not approved to treat the disease in Australia or any other wealthy western nation.
“There is insufficient evidence to validate the use of Ivermectin in patients with COVID-19.”
America’s Food and Drug Administration famously came out even harder against increasing reports of Ivermectin usage.
“You are not a horse. You are not a cow. Seriously, y’all. Stop it,” the agency said, in a headline-grabbing tweet.
The Mississippi Poison Control Centre recently noted an increasing number of calls to its hotline for potential Ivermectin exposure, 70 per cent of which were related to taking formulations bought at livestock supply centres.
And Australia’s National COVID-19 Clinical Evidence Taskforce last week issued a “strong recommendation against the use of Ivermectin outside of randomised trials”.
University of Sydney dean of Pharmacy Andrew McLachlan said the bulk of studies showed there wasn’t enough evidence the drug was useful in treating or preventing COVID-19.
A large clinical trial that initially appeared to support Ivermectin’s use was later withdrawn but the drug continued to attract broad interest.
Some researchers, including at the University of Oxford, are still studying whether the drug could work but experts reiterate it’s far too early to tell and even if it does turn out to be useful, self-medicating can be incredibly dangerous.
“More evidence-based research is required to determine if Ivermectin could be used as an antiviral medicine to fight against COVID-19 disease,” the TGA said.
“There is a need for larger and consistent randomised controlled clinical trials.”
Western Sydney officials said the good news was that proven treatments are available in hospital for those that need them”.
“Vaccination is the best and safest way to protect yourself and your family against severe illness from COVID-19,” they said.