HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — Doctors are urging people to stop using an anti-parasitic drug meant mainly for animals to treat and prevent COVID.

Ivermectin is not authorized or approved by the FDA for treatment of COVID-19, but some in the Midstate are buying it off the shelves, dangerously dosing themselves.

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As COVID cases continue to rise, many people are taking treatments into their own hands.

“When we use Ivermectin under a physician’s guidance, under a physician’s dosing, it can be a very safe drug because we give you the correct amount. We don’t give you the amount that’s normally intended for a horse, said Dr. John Goldman, infectious disease specialist and vice president of medical affairs with UPMC Central Pa.

Goldman has used the drug to treat infections including parasites, worms and scabies.

“But I’m also giving the right dose. I’m also not giving it for COVID,” Goldman said. “And in fact, if you take it for COVID, you’re risking using an ineffective treatment with side effects.

New data shows a dramatic increase in prescriptions being dispensed for Ivermectin. That medicine is meant for humans, but some are buying it on store shelves meant for animals.

“The assumption is people are obtaining it so that they can use it either for treatment of COVID or in case they get COVID,” Goldman said.

This week the CDC said there’s been a rise in calls to poison control centers from people reporting overdoses and more people experiencing adverse effects from Ivermectin.

Goldman says the team at UPMC reviewed all the studies on the drug.

“We came to the same conclusion that the FDA, the department of health and the NIH came to, that the drug does not work. The risks outweigh the benefits,” Goldman said.

Goldman says if you do develop COVID symptoms, contact a doctor. Don’t try to treat them on your own.