By Jane Orient, M.D.
I hope you don’t get COVID—if you do, you probably will have a lot of trouble finding a doctor who will prescribe early treatment applying one of a number of published protocols.
Doctors do not want to be called “foolish” by their colleagues or summoned to defend their license before the medical board.
Ivermectin is the medication in greatest popular demand at present, and U.S. physicians are writing 88,000 prescriptions a week. Are they all foolish? Consider this graph from Peru.
Between August 1 and November 17, 2020, there was a 14-fold decrease in excess all-cause deaths over three months, most rapidly in states with the maximum distribution of ivermectin. After November 17, there was a sharp turnaround, with a 13-fold increase in deaths over one month. On November 17, the newly-elected president restricted the distribution of ivermectin.
Any foolishness there?
American doctors are warned: “Ivermectin misuse in Arizona is leading to hospitalizations,” according to an article in Arizona’s largest newspaper. “We hope that people are smart enough not to be going and getting these medicines and we hope that physicians aren’t being foolish and prescribing this to their patients,” said Dr. Daniel Brooks, medical director for Banner Health’s Poison and Drug Information Center. Banner is Arizona’s largest health system. According to the article, Banner refers doctors inquiring about ivermectin to the poison control center.
Although billions of doses of ivermectin have been taken by humans over about four decades and like all drugs, it can have adverse effects. Banner states that at least seven cases resulted in hospitalization in August. It is not clear whether patients had overdosed on over-the-counter veterinary products.
Hospitalized patients or their advocates do not have the right to their treatment of choice, although a few patients were able to get ivermectin, which is credited with saving their lives, because of a court order. An effort to get treatment involving hydroxychloroquine to a critically ill couple in Georgia is being denied, and legal intervention is sought.
“We don’t practice quack medicine at this hospital,” one physician reportedly said when asked about the protocol requested by an outside consultant.
The Australian government’s Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) now forbids doctors to prescribe ivermectin for COVID; they may use it only for scabies or certain parasitic diseases. The decision was made after prescriptions for the drug increased between three and four times and attempts to import ivermectin from abroad went up tenfold in August. The TGA said its decision was also based on concern that people would rely on the option of using the drug to treat COVID-19 as an alternative to getting vaccinated. Are Australian doctors foolish quacks?
Patients also do not have the right to decline certain COVID interventions. One patient was told she could not have her spine surgery if she insisted on refusing consent to FDA-approved remdesivir, which can cause multiple organ failure or a COVID vaccine.
Ivermectin for human use is available in the U.S., but some pharmacies refuse to fill prescriptions if the patient plans to use it for COVID. It is available over the counter in Mexico, but carrying it across the border may be illicit. Patients are resorting to veterinary formulations because they can’t get prescriptions. Some contain other antiparasitics or excipients that might be harmful to humans.
Jane Orient, M.D., is the executive director of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, which has published a compendium of treatment protocols, sources of care, and home-based COVID-19 treatments.