AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – Doctors are sending a strong warning; do not take ivermectin to treat COVID-19. Right now, thousands of people across America are taking the drug but many people aren’t consuming it the right way, according to the experts.

“You cannot believe what’s coming across social media. Social media is a substitute for one of the biggest liars,” said Tim Whit. He’s encouraging people to use their common sense during this pandemic.

Health care providers and a lot of other people say false information is being spread on social media about ivermectin.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines ivermectin as, “A drug mixture of two structurally similar semisynthetic lactones that is used in veterinary medicine as an anthelmintic, acaricide, and insecticide and in human medicine to treat onchocerciasis.”

“Ivermectin has been around for a long time. It is actually used in people. We don’t use it too often here in the US because it’s used for intestinal parasites like worms,” said Palmetto Poison Center Managing Director Dr. Jill Michels.

AU Health Chief Medical Officer Dr. Philip Coule said, “We have not seen cases of people overdosing on ivermectin yet or symptoms of it. However, I am getting a lot of questions about people taking it.”

Both Coule and Michels conclude ivermectin must be taken appropriately per the guidance of a medical professional. Although there are people out there who are taking the animal grade of the drug.

“These people are buying this medication that’s not for human use for this and they’re guessing the dose and they’re using these products that are highly concentrated for horses. And estimate how much you should take, and you could overdose because you’re not getting your math correct,” said Michels.

She reports the Palmetto Poison Center has received a call recently about a South Carolina man taking the animal ivermectin medication to treat COVID-19.

Michels explained, “The concern with the social media, the people reading on social media and from their friends and their neighbors, it’s concerning they’re giving out bad information so listen to your doctor, your nurse, your pharmacist.”

“The problem is, people try to adjust doses and it’s just not been studied that way. It’s not designed for use that way so the potential for an overdose or serious side effects that could land you in the hospital or potentially kill you, certainly does exist,” said Coule.

Data from the Centers for Disease Control shows a 19-fold increase in the use of ivermectin. Some pharmacies have stopped dispensing the drug despite a doctor’s prescription according to Coule. He believes that has also caused people to resort to buying and taking the veterinary formula.

Coule said, “We often use medicines for different indications than maybe what they were designed for and that’s common in medicine but we do that after there’s well-designed research that demonstrates a benefit. And this is one of those examples where the research does not show a benefit.”

Michels added as of Wednesday, the Palmetto Poison Center has not received any calls about ivermectin overdoses in the CSRA.