An Oklahoma hospital has disputed an ER doctor's claims from last week about ivermectin overdoses.
Some are promoting the antiparasitic drug as a COVID-19 treatment despite warnings from the CDC.
Insider was unable to verify claims attributed to Dr. Jason McElyea about the situation in Oklahoma.
Editor's note: This story has been updated to reflect a new statement from Northeastern Health System Sequoyah, which said the hospital had not treated patients with complications from ivermectin and had not turned away patients because of overcrowding.
At least one hospital in Oklahoma is disputing the widely reported claims of a doctor about overdoses attributed to the antiparasitic medication ivermectin.
Dr. Jason McElyea, an emergency-room physician affiliated with at least two hospitals in eastern Oklahoma, gave an interview to the Oklahoma City NBC affiliate KFOR last week in which he said hospitals were being burdened by people overdosing on a version of ivermectin meant for livestock. Some have touted the drug as a COVID-19 treatment in recent weeks despite warnings from health authorities.
KFOR cited McElyea as saying that his "eastern and southeastern Oklahoma hospitals" were becoming overwhelmed by people taking ivermectin in an attempt to treat COVID-19.
"The ERs are so backed up that gunshot victims were having hard times getting to facilities where they can get definitive care and be treated," McElyea said.
The story was widely covered by news outlets including Insider, which was unable to independently verify McElyea's claims.
But Northeastern Health System Sequoyah, a hospital in Sallisaw, Oklahoma, with whom McElyea has worked, released a statement over the weekend - which still appeared on its homepage as of Monday morning - saying it was not treating people for ivermectin overdoses.This content is not available due to your privacy preferences.Update your settings here to see it.
"All patients who have visited our emergency room have received medical attention as appropriate," the statement said. "Our hospital has not had to turn away any patients seeking emergency care."
The hospital also said McElyea was "affiliated with a medical staffing group that provides coverage for our emergency room" but had not worked at Sequoyah in two months.
McElyea did not respond to requests for comment from Insider by email and phone over the weekend.
Ivermectin has approval from the Food and Drug Administration to treat some human conditions including head lice but has not been proved effective as a COVID-19 treatment. The KFOR report came days after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a health advisory warning that people could become severely ill from self-medicating with ivermectin and that overdosing could cause a coma, seizures, and death.
At the very least, any milder side effects - like nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, low blood pressure, and dizziness - are also unpleasant.
Some hospitals in Oklahoma do appear to be under strain, but that can be attributed largely to coronavirus cases. The Tulsa World, which published some of McElyea's claims, wrote in an article last week that three major Oklahoma hospital systems had reported no available intensive-care-unit beds.
Insider has contacted 121 hospitals in Oklahoma but did not immediately receive responses.
Oklahoma has reported 557,770 COVID-19 cases and 8,001 deaths during the coronavirus pandemic, according to The New York Times' case tracker. The state's daily average of newly reported cases was 2,671 on Thursday, a 21% increase over the past 14 days.
Rolling Stone, which was among the news outlets that initially picked up the KFOR report, published an update in which it said it was unlikely that ivermectin overdoses were overwhelming Oklahoma hospitals given the relatively few overdose cases tracked nationally by the National Poison Data System. As of Monday morning, KFOR did not appear to have updated its article about McElyea's comments.
US health authorities have said that while some initial research is underway, ivermectin is not approved or recommended as a treatment for COVID-19. Despite health authorities' warnings, data from the CDC indicates that people are continuing to take ivermectin. From early July to the week of August 13, pharmacies filled more than 88,000 ivermectin prescriptions, about 24 times the weekly average in the year to March 13, 2020, the CDC said on August 26.
The US National Institutes of Health is conducting a trial to see whether ivermectin could help people with mild or moderate COVID-19 cope better. A University of Oxford trial is also studying ivermectin as a COVID-19 treatment.
Read the original article on Insider
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