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Poison experts warn about non-approved medications for COVID-19

Joint News Release by Arizona Poison & Drug Information Center, Banner Health

PHOENIX (August 23, 2021) – There has been an increase in calls to the Banner Poison & Drug Information Center in Phoenix and the Arizona Poison & Drug Information Center in Tucson, regarding Ivermectin exposures (and use) in humans. Ivermectin, a prescribed antiparasitic medication typically given to animals, is not an antiviral – meaning it is not effective in preventing or treating COVID-19 and can post serious health risks if incorrectly used. 

“Higher doses can cause significant illness in humans,” states Dr. Daniel Brooks, medical director of the Banner Poison & Drug Information Center. “Ivermectin is not approved for the treatment of COVID-19 illness and should not be taken. Animal formulations are not intended for human use.”

The Banner Poison & Drug Information Center in Phoenix has supported two cases so far this month in which a patient used Ivermectin and experienced adverse effects. One of these patients required treatment at a hospital. The poison and drug information center has received 12 calls involving exposure to Ivermectin since the beginning of the year. Four additional calls this month involved people asking for information about whether to use the medication. The Arizona Poison Control System in Tucson has received 20 calls year to date, which include 12 exposure calls and eight informational calls.

The FDA recently stated Ivermectin preparations for animals are very different from those approved for humans and should never be used on people. “Ivermectin tablets are approved by the FDA to treat people with intestinal strongyloidiasis and onchocerciasis, two conditions caused by parasitic worms,” the FDA stated. “In addition, some topical (on the skin) forms of ivermectin are approved to treat external parasites like head lice and for skin conditions such as rosacea.”

The use of Ivermectin and any other medications often described on social media as “anti-COVID-19” is not recommended for non-hospitalized patients.

“There are FDA authorized monoclonal antibody therapies which are highly beneficial when administered in patients experiencing more than mild symptoms,” reports Dr. Farshad Mazda Shirazi, medical director for the Arizona Poison & Drug Information Center.

If you or someone you know has been exposed to any poison, medication, chemical or bite/sting, please call the poison center immediately at 1-800-222-1222. The poison center’s nurses, pharmacists and physicians can answer questions and help determine if medical treatment is necessary.

As one of the largest nonprofit health care systems in the country, the team at Banner Health is committed to ensuring all Banner locations are a safe place for care. Headquartered in Phoenix, Banner Health owns and operates 30 acute-care hospitals and an array of other services, including: Banner Imaging, Banner Telehealth and Banner Urgent Care. Team members are dedicated to protecting the health and safety of patients, be it a routine checkup, elective surgery or an urgent health service. Waiting room and employee workstation layouts maintain proper social distancing; screenings are conducted at hospital entrances to verify that all employees and visitors are well; and, all Banner physicians are equipped to visit patients remotely. Learn more about Banner's commitment to safety at

The Arizona Poison and Drug Information System is operated by the poison and drug information centers at the University of Arizona College of Pharmacy in Tucson, and Banner University Medical Center Phoenix. The System provides free and confidential poison and drug information to the public and health care professionals. The hotlines operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The two centers serve all of Arizona and are part of 55 centers across the nation that are accredited by American Association of Poison Control Centers. Call (800) 222-1222 to reach the poison center nearest you.

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