FDA warns against animal medication for COVID-19; feed stores receiving calls about the drug

FDA issues Ivermectin warning

HOUSTON – The message from the Food and Drug Administration in the past week: “You are not a horse. You are not a cow. Seriously, y’all. Stop it.”

Those words came in a tweet from the agency warning people not to use Ivermectin for COVID-19.

But that hasn’t stopped interest in the medication, which is commonly used to treat parasitic infections, or worms, in animals like cows and horses.

“We have seen an increase of people calling and asking for the particular product,” said Marcquis Davis, owner of Big Tex Feed, Hardware and Pet Supply.

One of the products on the shelf at her store is clearly marked “not for use in humans.”

“We have more and more people who are calling about it because they want to use it as a preventative,” said Betty Heacker, owner and president at Wabash Feed and Garden.

A letter on the FDA’s website expresses concern about people who may self-medicate by taking Ivermectin products intended for animals.

“At this point, Ivermectin is not recommended for treatment or prevention of COVID-19,” said Dr. Jill Weatherhead, asst. professor of infectious diseases and tropical medicine at Baylor College of Medicine.

Weatherhead said the medicine can be prescribed in certain doses for parasitic infections in people but that’s not the same product on the shelves at feed stores.

“The formulations are different,” Weatherhead said. “They are different non-active ingredients at different concentrations. The concentration of the medication is usually higher in animal medications than in human medications so they’re not equivalent.”

She also said lab studies suggesting high doses of the drug can control viruses like COVID were from a petri dish.

“The clinical trials that have been done to date have not shown efficacy or benefit of this drug in preventing consequences of COVID-19, including mortality and severity of disease,” Weatherhead said.

The local feed stores that spoke with KPRC2 said they sell the animal product in pastes and liquids which can be bought off the shelf and they can’t control what people do with them when they leave.

The FDA said high doses of the drug can be dangerous for people and more testing is needed when it comes to using for COVID.

Weatherhead said the best strategy for someone to protect themselves right now is the vaccine.