Alberta doctor says patients are asking for unapproved remedies for COVID-19

EDMONTON — A local doctor is fed up with people asking for a veterinary drug used to de-worm horses, cattle, and sheep because they believe it can treat COVID-19.

Dr. Michael Chatenay, a general surgeon, told CTV News Edmonton in an interview that several patients have asked him about whether his hospital stocks Ivermectin.

While there are some extremely limited uses in humans and a handful of very preliminary studies about whether it can be used to treat COVID-19, he says some conspiracy-minded individuals have tried to get their hands on it.

Chatenay said that none of those studies have proven that the drug provides a demonstrable benefit against COVID-19.

“The irony isn’t lost on us that they call the people who use the vaccine ‘sheep’ and they’re using a treatment used on sheep,” Chatenay said. “Which is absolutely astonishing to me.”

“People grasp on to this and start to look for miracle cures for COVID, rather than relying on the highly tested and proven solution to this problem: which is an approved COVID-19 vaccine,” he added. “In many ways, this vaccine is the most tested and proven medication. It has been safely used on hundreds of millions of people.”

Many American poison control services reported dramatic spikes in calls related to people taking Ivermectin.

Kerry Williamson, Alberta Health Services (AHS) spokesperson, said in a statement that there have so far been no calls to local poison and drug information service phone lines about Ivermectin.

“The AHS Scientific Advisory Group conducted a review to explore using Ivermectin in treatment and prevention of COVID-19 and currently, Ivermectin is not an approved medication for the treatment of COVID-19 in Alberta,” Williamson added.

Chatenay, who grew up on a farm, said he remembered his father using Ivermectin on his own livestock.

“I remember many days with my father pouring this foul-smelling concoction Ivermectin on cows’ backs,” he recalled. “It was used to get rid of some warbles and certain skin parasites.

“The veterinary application is not useful in humans.”

The doctor said health care workers are getting increasingly fatigued with having to deal with patients asking for Ivermectin and other unproven remedies.

“The pandemic has now selected out a population of people that tend to be conspiracy theorists that tend to try and grasp on to things that aren’t proven rather than grasping on to things that are proven, and are increasingly belligerent about it when we try and provide care for them,” Chatenay said.

“It’s becoming absolutely exhausting for us to deal with this.” 

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