GOP Lawmaker Tom Rice Slams Fellow Republicans Promoting Ivermectin as COVID Treatment

Congressman Tom Rice, a South Carolina Republican, slammed members of his own party who have touted ivermectin as a treatment for COVID-19 in a Facebook post on Friday.

His comments came after The Sun News, a Myrtle Beach-based newspaper, reported that leaders of the Horry County Republican Party held a meeting that discussed the drug as a COVID-19 cure, even though health experts have not approved it to treat the virus.

"That the leaders of the Horry County Republican Party believe it is appropriate to advocate for medical treatment for any illness is simply insane," Rice wrote. "Especially in the middle of a plague, and in opposition to the guidance of the Center for Disease Control, the National Institute of Health, and 95% of the physicians in the country. Folks, talk to your doctor if you want medical advice."

He added: "This is not about politics. I know too many people that have died from this disease. Every doctor I know says get vaccinated."

In a statement to Newsweek, the Horry County GOP wrote: "The congressman is right—this isn't about politics. It's about informing members of our party of early treatment for the COVID-19 virus, so that they are informed of their options early on—in case they do find themselves with COVID. Political intervention in this virus is what finds us staring at a medical establishment who can't get it right, and a political establishment who toes that line in order to not upset their masters apple cart."

The group also said: "He is also right that it wouldn't be appropriate to advocate for medical treatment. We aren't doctors, and we didn't advocate for or against any one treatment. We merely provided information to our party members with a trained medical professional who has been treating COVID patients for 18 months."

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has raised concerns about using ivermectin to treat coronavirus. The drug is approved by the FDA to treat people who have intestinal strongyloidiasis and onchocerciasis, two conditions caused by parasitic worms. It has also been approved to prevent heartworm disease in some animals.

However, the FDA has not approved ivermectin as a treatment for COVID-19, and the agency has received multiple reports of people who have been hospitalized by self-medicating with the drug.

"There's a lot of misinformation around, and you may have heard that it's okay to take large doses of ivermectin. That is wrong," the FDA said. "Even the levels of ivermectin for approved uses can interact with other medications, like blood-thinners."

It is also possible to overdose on ivermectin, which can cause an array of side effects, according to the agency.

Rice has previously challenged fellow Republicans. Following the January 6 Capitol riot, he was one of 10 GOP lawmakers to vote to impeach former President Donald Trump. Since then, he has received backlash in South Carolina's heavily-Republican 7th Congressional District.

Horry County is located in northeast South Carolina and contains Myrtle Beach. More than 354,000 people live there, according to U.S. Census data.

Rep. Tom Rice
U.S. Rep Tom Rice, a South Carolina Republican, called out members of his party who have promoted ivermectin as a COVID-19 treatment. Here, he is seen at a town hall in Society Hill in August 2017. Sean Rayford/Getty Images