Poison Center Warns: Livestock Meds Not for COVID Treatment

by Elizabeth Pitts-Hibbard

Scott Schaeffer, managing director for the Oklahoma Center for Poison and Drug Information, told Oklahomans this week not to use medications intended for livestock to treat or prevent COVID-19.

"I'm troubled about people using ivermectin in an over-the-counter use -- for example, going to the feed store," Schaeffer said in an interview with Tulsa Public Radio. "Primarily because they're doing it on their own and they're using very large doses. They're using concentrations that are intended for very large animals like cattle and horses. They're doing it without, typically, the knowledge of their physicians, and there is significant potential for very large, massive overdoses of ivermectin."

Schaeffer said that his office has received at least 10 calls recently regarding ingestion of ivermectin.

Schaeffer also said people should rely upon medical professionals for information, prevention, and treatment rather than unsubstantiated claims of “miracle cures.”

The Food and Drug Administration warned that taking the drug meant for animals is dangerous and could be fatal. The agency said that it has received multiple reports of hospitalizations after humans used the drug for self-medication.

The FDA emphasized that no form of ivermectin has been approved to treat or prevent COVID-19, despite misinformation available widely online.

“Ivermectin tablets are approved by the FDA to treat people with intestinal strongyloidiasis and onchocerciasis, two conditions caused by parasitic worms. In addition, some topical (on the skin) forms of ivermectin are approved to treat external parasites like head lice and for skin conditions such as rosacea,” the FDA said in an update in March. “Some forms of ivermectin are used in animals to prevent heartworm disease and certain internal and external parasites. It’s important to note that these products are different from the ones for people, and safe when used as prescribed for animals only.”

The agency also warned that inactive ingredients found in medications meant for animals have not been evaluated for use in humans, and that dosages for humans and animals differ greatly.

Here’s what you need to know about ivermectin, according to the FDA:

• FDA has not approved ivermectin for use in treating or preventing COVID-19 in humans. Ivermectin tablets are approved at very specific doses for some parasitic worms, and there are topical (on the skin) formulations for head lice and skin conditions like rosacea. Ivermectin is not an anti-viral (a drug for treating viruses).

• Taking large doses of this drug is dangerous and can cause serious harm.

• If you have a prescription for ivermectin for an FDA-approved use, get it from a legitimate source and take it exactly as prescribed.

• Never use medications intended for animals on yourself. Ivermectin preparations for animals are very different from those approved for humans.

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