New Mexico has linked two deaths in the state to misuse of ivermectin, a medicine typically used for parasitic infections in animals that has repeatedly been used by people as an anti-COVID-19 medication.
New Mexico reported the two deaths on Wednesday, according to the state health department. They were among the 14 patients in the state hospitalized after being poisoned by the use of ivermectin, which has been promoted by both podcast host Joe Rogan and Alex Jones, the conspiracy theorist.
While the FDA has approved the use of ivermectin in specified doses for humans suffering from intestinal parasites such as worms, it isn’t intended or used to treat viruses.
David Scrase, the acting head of the state health department, said the two patients who died — ages 38 and 79 years old — had both contracted the coronavirus and attempted to treat it themselves with ivermectin. In one patient, the use of the drug led to kidney failure.
“It’s the wrong medicine for something really serious,” Scrase said.
Amid a surge of prescriptions for the drug, as well as an increase in people purchasing the version of the drug meant for livestock, the FDA has continued to warn of the dangers.
“The FDA has received multiple reports of patients who have required medical support and been hospitalized after self-medicating with ivermectin intended for horses,” the FDA said, adding, “Animal drugs are often highly concentrated because they are used for large animals like horses and cows, which can weigh a lot more than we do—a ton or more. Such high doses can be highly toxic in humans.”
According to a report by The New York Times, the American Association of Poison Control Centers has reported 1,440 cases of ivermectin poisoning for the year as of Sept. 20, more than triple the number in 2019 and 2020.
The Times also noted that a number of states are reporting rising calls about the drug to poison control centers.