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Ben Bergquam was hospitalized with COVID in January. He says he brought his own prescription for ivermectin — an unproven COVID therapy. Screenshot by NPR/Facebook hide caption

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Screenshot by NPR/Facebook

What a bottle of ivermectin reveals about the shadowy world of COVID telemedicine

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A box and container of ivermectin arranged in Jakarta, Indonesia, on Thursday, Sept. 2, 2021. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration warned Americans against taking ivermectin, an anti-parasitic drug, as treatment or prevention against Covid-19. Dimas Ardian/Bloomberg via Getty Images hide caption

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Dimas Ardian/Bloomberg via Getty Images

People opposed to COVID-19 vaccines often embrace ivermectin, a drug they think is not getting the attention it deserves. Here, an anti-vaccination protester takes part in a rally against vaccine mandates last month in Santa Monica, Calif. Ringo Chiu/AFP via Getty Images hide caption

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Ringo Chiu/AFP via Getty Images

How ivermectin became the new focus of the anti-vaccine movement

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Left: Family physician Dr. E.V. Rapiti is among those prescribing ivermectin to patients for COVID-19 despite no clear evidence it has any effect. Right: Dr. E.V. Rapiti's office entrance in Mitchells Plain, South Africa. Dr. E.V. Rapiti; Eyder Peralta/NPR hide caption

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Dr. E.V. Rapiti; Eyder Peralta/NPR

Research Shows This Drug Shouldn't Be Used For COVID-19, But In South Africa Many Do

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The FDA, CDC and American Medical Association have all warned against the use of ivermectin (shown here in India) in treating COVID-19 patients. Soumyabrata Roy/NurPhoto/Getty Images hide caption

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Soumyabrata Roy/NurPhoto/Getty Images

Health experts and medical groups are pushing to stamp out the growing use of ivermectin, an anti-parasite drug, to treat COVID-19, amid warnings that it can cause harmful side effects and that there's little evidence it helps. Denis Farrell/AP hide caption

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Denis Farrell/AP

Joe Rogan has told his Instagram followers he has been taking ivermectin, a deworming veterinary drug formulated for use in cows and horses, to help fight the coronavirus. The Food and Drug Administration has warned against taking the medication, saying animal doses of the drug can cause nausea, vomiting and in some cases severe hepatitis. Michael S. Schwartz/Getty Images hide caption

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Michael S. Schwartz/Getty Images