Shortages of the veterinary version of the anti-parasite drug ivermectin are being reported by distributors and feed stores across the country because many people are misusing it to combat COVID-19.
The issue has caused frustration for some horse owners, who cannot find the drug to treat their animals.
Ivermectin became the center of public attention in recent months after social media rumors caused many to believe the drug could treat or prevent COVID-19.
While the drug is safe for human use in small doses, and is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), many are using versions of the drug made for large animals like horses, leading to a surge in poison control calls.
QC Supply (pictured) a distributor of veterinary drugs, has reported running out of the anti-parasite drug ivermectin after many began using it to treat Covid
V&V Tack and Feed (pictured) began requiring people to show a picture of themselves with a horse to purchase ivermectin. Many horse owners are having trouble finding the drug due to a recent rush
Pictured: A sign at V&V Tack & Feed requiring ivermectin purchasers to have a picture of their horse on hand
‘There was an immediate frustration expressed by retailers who felt it was necessary to re-shelve ivermectin labeled products behind counters or locked in cases,’ said Cliff Williamson, director of health and regulatory affairs at the American Horse Council, to the Washington Post.
‘Shoppers now go through extra steps to obtain equine medication.’
Multiple stores and suppliers that sell the product are reporting shortages.
According to The Guardian, QC Supply, a Nebraska based distributor, has ran out of ivermectin paste to be used for horses.
A Las Vegas store, V&V Tack and Feed, even began requiring people to show pictures of themselves with their horses to purchase the drug to prevent misuse
‘I had a gentleman come in, and he was an older gentleman. He told me that his wife wanted him to be on the Ivermectin plan,’ Shelly Smith, an employee at V&V, told News Channel 5 in Nashville.
‘I immediately brought him over here because at that time, I had this sign hung up, and I told him this isn’t safe for you to take. And he says, “Well, we’ve been taking it, and my only side effect is I can’t see in the morning.”
‘That’s a big side effect, so you probably shouldn’t take it.’
Fleet Farm, an online outlet where ivermectin can be purchased, currently issues a warning about the drug as well.
‘Despite media reports that ivermectin could potentially be used to treat people with Covid-19, these products are not safe or approved for human use, which could cause severe personal injury or death,’ the website says, as reported by The Guardian.
Many Americans are purchasing horse versions of ivermectin. While the drug is safe for human consumption, doses made for horses are too large for humans and could cause overdoses
Rumors and falsehoods about the drug’s ability to fight viruses like Covid are based on an Australian study from early in the pandemic that found the drug could inhibit replication of the virus’ cells.
Many took the study and ran with it, pushing ivermectin as a Covid treatment and even potential vaccine replacement.
Some prominent figures even backed the drug, like Fox News’ Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingrham.
Dr Timothy Geary, one of the world’s foremost parasitology experts, explained to the DailyMail.com last month that the results of the study could not be translated to humans as the concentrations of the drug used are too high to be safe.
‘In that study they showed that in cell cultures, ivermectin could inhibit [Covid] replication, but the concentrations required for that effect were in a range called the micromolar range – very high concentrations relative to what you would find in the plasma of a treated person or an animal, which would be 20 to 50 times lower,’ he said.
‘At high concentrations in cell culture, many compounds can have all kinds of effects but when you look at what we would call pharmacological levels – what we actually see and treated patients – it is far higher than [what would be used in humans]
‘So the standard doses of ivermectin that we use for people are never going to reach the levels that would be effective in against the virus based on that one study.’
Geary assured DailyMail.com that the drug was safe to use in standard human doses, though, and there are little negative side effects when used properly.
Unfortunately, many are not using the drug properly and causing injury to themselves.
Poison control centers nationwide are reporting a surge in recent calls to treat ivermectin overdoses.
Many of the overdoses are relatively minor and there are no reported deaths caused by the drug itself, though some that have chosen to use ivermectin instead of seeking medical treatment when infected with the virus have died.
Top Ivermectin expert says the drug does not treat COVID-19
Dr. Timothy Geary, one of the world’s foremost experts of Ivermectin, says the drug does not have any effectiveness fighting viruses.
Geary, who is the Research Chair in Parasite Biotechnology at McGill University in Montreal, Canada, says that the 2020 study which spawned much of the Ivermectin-craze is not being correctly read.
Dr Timothy Geary (pictured) is one of the top experts on ivermectin and has researched the drug for over a decade
He told DailyMail.com that the study did show that Ivermectin could inhibit the replication of COVID-19 virus cells, which is what many are reading from the study that makes them believe the drug has virus killing properties.
Geary explained, though, that the concentration of the drug used in the study were so high that it could not be used for treatment in a human, and would likely cause an overdose.
‘In that study they showed that in cell cultures, Ivermectin could inhibit [Covid] replication, but the concentrations required for that effect were in a range called the micromolar range – very high concentrations relative to what you would find in the plasma of a treated person or an animal, which would be 20 to 50 times lower.’
He does not see too much harm in people using the drug in human-sized doses, though, as Geary assures that it is safe for consumption.
It is safe to use in doses of around 200 micrograms, and even people who are using it to incorrectly treat Covid are unlikely to suffer any major symptoms.
‘There’s no significant toxicity from those doses,’ Geary says.
He also mentioned that the drug has been used billions of times in between humans and animals, and has never shown any ability to combat viruses outside of the laboratory.
The typical Ivermectin prescribed by doctors com in pill form in small doses
But many Americans are facing problems with Ivermectin because they are not using the versions of the drug prescribed by doctors.
Instead, many are finding their own over-the-counter solutions, most notably going to local feed stores and buying medicine meant for horses, cows and sheep.
Prescribed versions of the drug come in pill form, while these versions are liquid.
The dosages are also much larger, meant for an animal that can weigh over 1,000 pounds, not a person that can weight less than one-fifth of that.
Taking doses too large can cause a person to have nausea, body pains, diarrhea limb swelling and other serious side effects.
In more serious cases, a person could overdose and suffer severe damage to their central nervous system, and potentially even die.