Md. congressman who’s prescribed ivermectin in medical practice can’t find pharmacy to fill it

Rep. Andy Harris, a Republican from Maryland, is also a practicing anesthesiologist and said he has prescribed ivermectin, which is used to treat parasites in humans and livestock, as a treatment for COVID-19. He added that he’s had trouble finding a pharmacy that will fill it.

During a discussion with a caller on a radio show he was co-hosting on WCBM-AM last month, Harris told the man that he had prescribed ivermectin as a treatment for COVID-19.

Ivermectin is not authorized or approved by Food and Drug Administration for prevention or treatment of COVID-19. Current available data do not show that it is effective against COVID-19, but clinical trials are ongoing, the FDA said.

Last month, the American Medical Association, the American Pharmacists Association and the American Society of Health System Pharmacists released a statement strongly opposing the ordering, prescribing or dispensing of ivermectin to prevent or treat COVID-19 outside of a clinical trial.

The Washington Post reported that during the show, Harris also criticized pharmacies for not making the drug available. He said he couldn’t find a pharmacy to supply ivermectin.

In August, on the same station, Harris also endorsed the drug.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, dispensing of ivermectin by pharmacies increased, as well as the use of veterinary formulations that are available over the counter but are not intended for human use, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advisory said.

The FDA has urged people not to use ivermectin as a treatment for infection with the coronavirus. In August, the FDA posted a message on social media: “You are not a horse. You are not a cow. Seriously, y’all. Stop it.”

Ivermectin tablets are approved by the FDA to treat people with conditions caused by parasitic worms. Topical forms are also approved to treat external parasites, such as head lice, and for skin conditions, such as rosacea, according to the FDA website.

Ivermectin for animals is approved for the prevention of heartworm disease and the treatment of internal and external parasites. The two ivermectin products — for people and for animals — are different from each other. When used as prescribed for approved indications, “it is generally safe and well tolerated,” the CDC said.

Harris isn’t opposed to coronavirus vaccines, however. In fact, earlier this year, he made a public service announcement strongly endorsing them.

Still, Harris strongly opposes vaccine and mask mandates. On the radio show in September, he questioned whether masks do anything.

The World Health Organization said masks should be part of a comprehensive strategy of measures to suppress transmission of the coronavirus. The CDC said that people including children older than 2 should wear a mask in indoor public places if they’re not fully vaccinated, fully vaccinated and in an area with substantial or high transmission, or fully vaccinated and with weakened immune systems.

Harris said he is worried that, “Americans actually agree with these mandates. What are we, a bunch of lemmings?”

WTOP’s Abigail Constantino contributed to this report. 

Chris Cruise

Christopher Cruise is a writer, reporter and anchor at WTOP. He has worked at The Voice of America, where he anchored newscasts for the Learning English branch. He is a backup host for Westwood’s morning radio news programs, “America in the Morning” and “First Light,” and contributes to them weekly.

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