ACP speaks out against COVID-19 misinformation

The organization is also calling on everyone to be vaccinated against the disease.

The American College of Physicians (ACP) is speaking out against the spread of COVID-19 misinformation.

In a statement, ACP President George M. Abraham, MD, FACP, FIDSA, discusses the concern caused by misinformation surrounding COVID-19 and the negative impact it has on public health.

The full statement is below:

The American College of Physicians (ACP), representing 161,000 internal medicine physicians (internists), related subspecialists, and medical students, is concerned about the spread of misinformation about the COVID-19 virus, vaccination and treatments, and its detrimental impact on public health. ACP strongly supports the use of science and scientific expertise, based on the best available evidence, in the fight against COVID-19. The spread of inaccurate and incorrect information about COVID-19 hinders our ability to mitigate the spread of the virus and combat the global public health crisis.

While ethical and responsible discussions of evidence and science to inform patient care and scientific and public policy are necessary and appropriate, clinicians—including physicians—must not contribute to spreading misinformation that can be harmful to patients. Physicians have an ethical obligation to put patient care and best interests above self-interest, and to provide patients and the public with accurate information about health care. We agree with the U.S. Surgeon General that health misinformation is a serious threat to public health. Contributing to the spread of misinformation that is not factual or based on the best available evidence puts the health of patients, families and communities at risk and thwarts the efforts of all physicians, health care workers, researchers, and others who are working tirelessly to fight COVID-19.

ACP calls on physicians, other health care professionals and patients to get vaccinated against COVID-19. We also urge the continued use of masks as part of a comprehensive public health strategy to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 and slow infection rates.

Ivermectin

Physician organizations have been taking the offensive lately in the fight against COVID-19 information as the American Medical Association, American Pharmacists Association and American Society of Health-System Pharmacists spoke out earlier this month calling for an immediate end to prescribing, dispensing, and using ivermectin to prevent or treat COVID-19, other than in clinical trials.

The groups said they are “alarmed” by reports that outpatient prescribing for, and dispensing of, ivermectin are up 24-fold since the start of the pandemic and have “increased exponentially over the past few months.”

The groups also say they are urging doctors, pharmacists and other prescribers to warn patients against using ivermectin outside of FDA-approved indications and guidance or buying it from online stores, noting that in its veterinary forms the drug is highly concentrated for use in large animals and thus poses “a significant toxicity risk for humans.”

The FDA has approved the use of ivermectin for use by humans to treat infections caused by internal and external parasites, according to the release, but not to prevent or treat COVID-19. It cites a recent CDC Health Alert Network Advisory recommending that health care professionals counsel patients against using ivermectin as a treatment for COVID-19, and emphasize the “potentially toxic effects” of the drug, including nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.