Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD), who is also an anesthesiologist, says that he has prescribed ivermectin, an anti-parasitic drug, to treat COVID-19, even though it has not been approved for use in COVID cases.
“I have prescribed ivermectin as treatment for early COVID,” Harris told local outlets WBAL-TV 11 and FOX 5 on Tuesday. “Data from India and elsewhere supports that off-label use. Off-label prescribing is commonly done for many medical illnesses.”
The Washington Post reported on Tuesday that during a radio program he was hosting on September 17, Harris said he had prescribed the drug several weeks prior. The revelation came as he was complaining about the difficulty of finding a pharmacy that would fill the prescription.
“I wrote a prescription for ivermectin, I guess it’s now three weeks ago, four weeks ago, and yeah, couldn’t find a pharmacy to fill it,” the Republican said. “It’s gotten bad. . . . The pharmacists are just refusing to fill it.”
Harris griped that it was “ridiculous” that national pharmacy organizations had spoken out against dispensing ivermectin for use in COVID-19 cases.
Those organizations include the American Pharmacists Association and the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, which declared in early September that they “strongly oppose” the “ordering, prescribing, or dispensing of ivermectin outside clinical trials.” The American Medical Association co-signed that statement.
“Use of ivermectin for the prevention and treatment of COVID-19 has been demonstrated to be harmful to patients,” the groups wrote.
The GOP lawmaker’s remarks indicate that he prescribed ivermectin in August, which is the same month the Federal Drug and Food Administration (FDA) warned that even though the drug was approved to treat certain infections caused by parasites in humans, it was “not authorized or approved” for COVID-19 and “has not been shown to be safe or effective” against the virus. The agency also warned that taking large doses of ivermectin is “dangerous” and that people should never take ivermectin products made for animals.
“You are not a horse,” the FDA tweeted at the time. “You are not a cow. Seriously, y’all. Stop it.”
The agency told TPM in an emailed statement on Wednesday that “while FDA-approved products may be prescribed by physicians for unapproved uses if they determine it is appropriate for treating their patients, including during COVID-19,” the “safety and efficacy of ivermectin for the prevention or treatment of COVID-19 has not been established.”
Yet ivermectin has been heralded as a miracle drug for COVID-19 in the conservative world, particularly among those who refuse to get the actual COVID-19 vaccine (which has been proven overwhelmingly to protect people against becoming seriously ill from the virus).
Harris’ office did not immediately respond to TPM’s inquiry.