A California psychiatrist who recently advised Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) is a proponent of using ivermectin, the parasite drug typically used to deworm horses, to treat COVID-19 despite health experts’ warning against its usage.
Los-Angeles-based Dr. Mark McDonald has promoted ivermectin as an alternative to widespread vaccination against COVID-19. In a now-deleted tweet post earlier this month, McDonald called ivermectin “effective, safe, inexpensive treatment” and shared an article in the Jerusalem Post citing a recent student of the drug in Israel, according to the Tampa Bay Times.
Last week, McDonald called people who think ivermectin is a drug for horses “ignoramuses” in a tweet. Ivermectin is used in different formulations to treat parasites in both humans and livestock.
In a phone interview with the Times on Friday, McDonald said people “should not get (ivermectin) from a feed lot” while blaming the federal government for the uptick in people ingesting ivermectin. McDonald griped that people are turning to ivermectin as a last resort to treat COVID-19 because the federal government won’t allow doctors to legally prescribe it.
McDonald baselessly claimed that the FDA dismisses ivermectin as an option to treat COVID due to how it already has spent billions of dollars to “mass vaccinate the population.”
“If the goal of these people is to advance public health and make the public well, why have none of them spoke a single word about prevention and making one healthy to prevent an infection or hospitalization or death?” McDonald said, according to the Times. “I think there is a lot of dishonesty here and cancellation of people who support truth.”
McDonald’s promotion of ivermectin isn’t his first go at pushing questionable views, which include his opposition to mask-wearing as a practice to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
In July, McDonald was appointed by DeSantis as part of a closed-door panel on masks in schools. Ten school districts in Florida have bucked DeSantis’ order banning mask mandates thus far, despite his threats to cut funding from districts that implement mask requirements.
According to the Times, McDonald is seen arguing that “masking children is child abuse” in a video of the closed-door meeting released by DeSantis’ office. McDonald also compared mask mandates to the apartheid, South Africa’s racist system of segregation that was in place for decades until the early 1990s.
Earlier this year, McDonald called people who wear masks “retarded” in a tweet.
Masks in a nutshell. pic.twitter.com/fGmRV14CDL
— Dr. Mark McDonald (@MMcDonaldMD) February 4, 2021
The nationwide demand for ivermectin as an unfounded treatment for COVID-19 — which is largely driven by misinformation pushed by right-wing media, anti-vaxxers, and Facebook groups dedicated to tracking down the drug — has prompted a surge of calls to poison control centers. Last week the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued an alert advising against using the dewormer as a treatment for COVID-19. The FDA has also stressed that the drug has not been approved to fight COVID.
According to the CDC, ivermectin prescriptions increased to 88,000 in the week ending August 13, a four-fold increase since July. The CDC also found that ivermectin-related calls to poison control centers are up 400 percent.