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Austin pharmacist gets 300 prescriptions a day for Ivermectin

The FDA warns large doses are dangerous to humans. Clinical studies are underway to see if the doctor-prescribed medicine for humans can treat COVID-19.

AUSTIN, Texas — Conventional is not the way Tom Schnorr operates. He owns Austin Compounding Pharmacy.

Traditional pharmacies dispense standard manufactured drugs, but Schnorr is licensed to mix and tailor the drug to the patient. He said that, right now, most people want the drug Ivermectin. Schnorr says he gets 300 prescriptions a day. 

His website shows “COVID ORDERS." The page lists more than a dozen drugs. The first 10 items are prescription-only, and Schnorr said not everyone needed every drug. Number one, Ivermectin, he said is needed by all.  

“If you treat it when you get infected, you don't have to go to the hospital,” Schnorr said.

The National Institutes of Health’s treatment guidelines show there’s “insufficient evidence” for Ivermectin to be used for COVID-19 as of July 8, 2021. Schnorr disagrees but adds context.

“If you have comorbidities, you probably should vaccinate. If you have comorbidities, you might want to look at lowering your inflammatory response,” Schnorr said.

Schnorr said Ivermectin helps treat COVID-19, and there is no cure for the virus.

“There is no evidence that Ivermectin is beneficial as a treatment or a preventative agent for COVID-19 infection,” F. Perry Wilson, MD, MSCE.

Wilson is an associate professor term at Yale School of Medicine. He is the director for Clinical and Translational Research Accelerator (CTRA) and Interpretation of the Medical Literature. Plus, Wilson is a co-director in Human Genetics and Clinical Research Core.

“The reason this came up is because there was a really fascinating study in test tubes which showed that if you infected some cells with COVID and then put in Ivermectin, the COVID replication was decreased. That's very promising data,” Wilson said.

Wilson added that what was done in a test tube cannot be done in humans.

“These were not just mega doses, super-mega doses that would be toxic to a human,” Wilson said.

Other studies looked promising for Ivermectin, but experts got concerned.

One studied only hospital workers.  Experts say it’s too limited. And a meta-analysis showed Ivermectin had a significant impact on COVID-19 treatment, but that study is now pulled.

“They've retracted on the basis of this fraudulent study that they included and have recalculated their meta-analysis without that study, finding that there's no benefit of Ivermectin,” Wilson said.

“The things we want to do for every single person, regardless of vaccination status, are Ivermectin once a week and then vitamin D. It's so easy,” Schnorr said.

The Food and Drug Administration investigators look for people selling products for COVID-19 treatment, prevention or response.

FDA sent warning letters to dozens of businesses. One warning to a business included Ivermectin. The company was based outside the U.S. FDA cited unapproved drugs and misbranded drugs in what the company labeled as its “Ziverdo Kit.”

Schnorr said he isn’t concerned.

“The Texas Medical Board (TMB) and Texas State Board of Pharmacy (TSBP) do not endorse or prohibit any particular prescribed drugs or treatment for COVID-19 that meet the standard of care. Drugs are permitted to be prescribed off-label. It is the professional judgment of each physician to write their prescriptions while meeting all applicable federal and state statutes and rules. Similarly, each pharmacist must use their professional judgment in dispensing valid prescriptions while meeting all applicable federal and state statutes and rules,” a joint statement posted on the TSBP website shows.

Schnorr said many doctors in Austin are not in his corner. They will not prescribe Ivermectin to treat or prevent COVID-19.

“The prescription was for five days,” local patient David Kohler said.

David Kohler asked his doctor for Ivermectin when he got the virus.

“Around day two, I started noticing a difference. That, in conjunction with the other prescriptions and the vitamins or everything like that,” Kohler said.

Kohler said he was prescribed some of the other items on Schnorr's list too.

Credit: KVUE, Austin Compounding Pharmacy

“I also had another prescription in conjunction with the Ivermectin, vitamins, sleep, water, fluids. I mean, everything put together. That's when I started feeling better, after the medical prescriptions from my doctor,” Kohler said.

Ivermectin is a drug primarily used to fight off parasites in animals and humans.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention posted a health advisory because people were taking a different version of the drug and getting sick.

“Educate patients about the risks of using Ivermectin without a prescription, or ingesting Ivermectin formulations that are meant for external use or Ivermectin-containing products formulated for veterinary use,” the advisory shows.

“Believe me or don't believe me. Even though I can tell you that I took it, call your doctor and ask your medical physician about Ivermectin. Don't just go to the pet store or the feed store,” Kohler said.

The FDA issued five warnings this year, starting with a product safety letter and a frequently asked questions page. Then, the FDA sent out a safety alert and posted a letter to veterinarians and retailers showing “continued concerns.” All of them warned against people using animal medications.

It is happening in Texas.

The KVUE Defenders obtained information from the Texas Poison Center Network. Calls for help in 2020 totaled 195. By the end of July 2021, Texas jumped past last year with 212 calls. Another 71 people needed help in August.

Local hospitals do not track overdoses of Ivermectin.

While it is not FDA-approved for treating COVID-19, the FDA allows the human version of Ivermectin to be prescribed for off-label use.

Schnorr goes against government recommendations. He still stands behind his list of meds.

“So even if it doesn't work, it's better than doing nothing,” Schnorr said.

Researchers need volunteers for COVID-19 clinical studies, including Ivermectin treatment and prevention. Information is available on the ClinicalTrials.gov website.

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