When state senators in South Carolina held two hearings on COVID-19 treatment in September, they learned about the benefits of ivermectin, and many lawmakers supported it by sharing their experiences with loved ones.
Demands for access to the drug have been high-profile and insistent despite a recent warning from federal regulators against using the drug to treat COVID.
Ivermectin is a generic drug that has been used for decades to treat river blindness, scabies, and even head lice. Veterinarians also use it in various formulations and dosages to treat animals for parasites such as worms.
At a hearing in South Carolina, Pressley Statts III reminded the group that his father, a prominent GOP leader in the state, had died of COVID a month earlier. He believed that ivermectin could help him. But the doctors at the hospital did not discuss it.
“I did my best to stay out of jail in an attempt to save my father’s life,” he told the group when lawmakers expressed their condolences.
“What’s going on here?” he asked with growing passion. “My dad is dead!”
Pleas for government officials grew. And now politicians are starting to act, mainly to satisfy their conservative voters.
After the outbreak of the pandemic, scientists began clinical trials to see if ivermectin could help treat COVID. Some are still going on. But conventional medicine providers have dismissed this treatment as a treatment for COVID, citing poor quality research to date and two notorious “preprints” of research that were circulated before they were peer-reviewed and then removed from the Internet due to inaccurate and incorrect data.
On August 26, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advised clinicians not to use ivermectin, citing insufficient evidence of benefit and pointing out that unauthorized use has led to accidental poisoning. The CDC has confirmed that vaccination is still the best way to avoid serious illness and death from the coronavirus.
But many Americans remain convinced that ivermectin can be beneficial, and some politicians seem to be listening.
“If we have drugs that work – or seem to work – I think it’s just awful that we don’t try them,” said Republican Senator Tom Corbin in South Carolina. He questioned doctors who came to the State Chamber to oppose the widespread introduction of ivermectin.
Doctors challenged the purported insult of not following best practices: “Any hint that any of us will do anything to deny effective treatment to our patients is indeed an insult to our profession,” said Dr. Annie Andrews , a professor at the Medical University of South Carolina who has treated COVID patients throughout the pandemic.
Instead of listening to doctors, some politicians in states like South Carolina seem to be taking cues from doctors in the periphery. During the September hearings, state senators intercepted a call from Dr. Pierre Corey.
Last year, Corey founded the Front Line COVID-19 Critical Care Alliance, a nonprofit that promotes ivermectin. He said he does not make money prescribing the drug, although the organization does require donations and has yet to file the required financial documents with the IRS.
Corey admitted that his medical reports led him to the “island.”
He first testified about ivermectin to a U.S. Senate committee in December. This video went viral. Although YouTube blocked him, his Senate testimony prompted patients across the country to ask for ivermectin when they got sick.
By the end of August, the number of prescriptions for outpatient treatment had grown 24 times. Calls to anti-poisoning hotlines have tripled, mainly due to people taking ivermectin for livestock.
Corey said he actually lost two jobs due to his views on ivermectin. At his current hospital in Wisconsin, where he runs an intensive care unit for two weeks a month, managers called him for a meeting in September where he was told he could no longer prescribe ivermectin. He gave it to “every COVID patient,” he said.
“Yes, after the pharma geddon was launched, they shut it down,” he told South Carolina lawmakers. “And I will tell you that many hospitals across the country already closed it a few months ago.”
The presentation of the fight against ivermectin as a battle against faceless federal agencies and large pharmaceutical corporations attracted Americans, who were already suspicious of the science behind the pandemic and approved vaccines against COVID.
Corey suggests COVID treatment success stories in other parts of the world have been suppressed to promote vaccines instead.
In an interview with NPR, Corey said he regretted the outbreak he helped ignite.
“I am very sorry for the patients and I am very sorry for the doctors,” he told NPR. “Both of them – patients and doctors – are trapped.”
Patients still require treatment, but physicians who are sympathetic to their wishes are instructed by their health systems not to try it.
Conservatives in elected office now feel a political benefit if they step in to help patients get the cure. State legislatures, including those in Tennessee and Alaska, are discussing ways to increase access to ivermectin, with proposals such as shielding doctors from the consequences of prescribing it or getting pharmacists to write dubious prescriptions.
The Montana State Bureau of Information said the Republican Attorney General sent a state soldier to a hospital on Helena Island, where a politically connected patient was dying of COVID. Her family requested ivermectin.
St. Peter’s Hospital said the doctors and nurses were “harassed and threatened by three government officials.”
“These officials have no medical training or experience, but insisted that our providers provide treatment for COVID-19 that is not sanctioned, clinically approved, or does not meet guidelines set by the FDA and CDC,” the statement said. …
On October 14, the Republican Attorney General in Nebraska addressed this controversy by issuing a nearly 50-page legal opinion stating that doctors who believe ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine are being used “off-label” to treat COVID are acting within medical parameters. your state. licenses if the physician obtains appropriate informed consent from the patient.
Some patients have filed claims for ivermectin, but with varying success. The Illinois patient was denied. But other hospitals, including a hospital in Ohio, were forced to inject the drug against the objections of their doctors.
Some ivermectin aficionados say that although they have powerful political supporters, they are now shunning the health care system because they have lost faith in it.
Lesa Berry, from Richmond, Virginia, had a girlfriend who died earlier this year from COVID. The doctors refused to use ivermectin, despite requests from Berry and the patient’s daughter.
“Now they know better,” she said.
“My first attempt was to keep her out of the hospital,” Berry said. “Because right now, when you go to the hospital, you are only given what is specified on the CDC protocol.”
Berry and her husband have purchased their own supply of ivermectin, which they store at home.
This story belongs to a partnership that includes NPR, Nashville Public Radio and KHN.