As the COVID-19 Delta variant continues to spread, one Roseburg doctor is turning to the medication ivermectin, an anti-parasitic drug, to help patients recover, despite it not being approved by the FDA as a treatment for the virus.
Dr. Tim Powell of Evergreen Family Medicine, one of the largest medical facilities in Roseburg, wrote in a blog post on Evergreen’s website that ivermectin is a medication keeping patients out of hospitals.
“At Evergreen Family Medicine, we are aggressive in those stratified to be at risk in this early phase. We believe regeneron, ivermectin, anticoagulation, and judicious use of steroids and active monitoring is keeping patients out of the hospital,” Powell wrote.
Evergreen did respond to a request for comment.
With a vaccination rate of a little more than 40 percent, Douglas County is one of the least vaccinated counties in the state, and as result, the area is seeing a COVID surge that is quickly filling up hospital beds. On Aug. 15, a COVID-19 patient died in the waiting room at Mercy Health Hospital in Roseburg while waiting for a bed.
Health agencies across the country, including the CDC and Oregon Health Authority (OHA) are advising against prescribing ivermectin for COVID-19 symptoms. According to a blog post by OHA, poison control centers are reporting overdoses and adverse effects as a result of the medicine, due to taking “inappropriate dosage.”
OHA also acknowledges that some people are purchasing ivermectin without a prescription and even experimenting with veterinary formulas. Taking ivermectin, especially in high doses, can lead to toxicity.
“While ivermectin is FDA-approved to treat certain infections caused by parasites, it has not been proven to prevent or treat COVID-19,” OHA said. The Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine is approved by the FDA.
As a result, sellers of ivermectin, such as Tractor Supply, have issued a warning against using the drug for COVID-19.
Douglas County Public Health told the Roseburg News-Review that they were aware of the situation, but would not be stepping in to do something about it.
Spokesperson Tamara Howell told the News-Review that it is not in the county health’s jurisdiction to tell hospitals and doctors what to do. She also said there were people on “both sides” of the debate on whether ivermectin is effective in mitigating COVID-19 symptoms. The paper also reported that Bob Dannenhoffer, the Douglas County Public Health officer, refused to talk about it during a weekly Facebook Live COVID-19 update. When someone asked him about the medication he said, “I’m not going there.”
On Facebook, multiple people wrote public posts about how Evergreen Family Medical Center treated their COVID-19 with ivermectin.
“Anyone with Covid, we got great treatment from Evergreen urgent care in Roseburg. They prescribed ivermectin, it can’t hurt to try everything to survive this crap,” one person posted.
This is not the first time leaders in this pocket of southern Oregon have shared concerning views on the virus. On Aug. 26, while cases and deaths in the county were still rising, Douglas County Sheriff John Hanlin released a statement that said he would not enforce mask mandates, and criticized Gov. Kate Brown’s mandate to require children to wear masks in schools and for certain employees to be vaccinated.
“This mandate is potentially more reckless than doing nothing to stop the spread of COVID-19,” Hanlin wrote. He added later that it was his duty to uphold the constitution and personal rights of residents in Douglas County.
Some people questioned this stance on Facebook and asked if the same “personal freedoms” applied to other mandates or laws such as wearing a seat belt or drinking and driving.
OHA and Douglas County Health maintain that getting vaccinated is the best way to avoid getting COVID-19. Wearing a mask, keeping socially distant from others and washing your hands help slow the spread of the virus.