LUBBOCK, Texas – Local stores said they are experiencing a shortage of livestock dewormer ivermectin due to a growing trend to use it treat COVID-19.
“I can’t stress this enough: you are not livestock, you do not have the same makeup, the same chemistry,” said Donna Rhodes, a receiver at Tractor Supply Co. “I have people taking shots of liquid ivermectin for cattle. I have people lathering themselves in paste, then wrapping it in Saran wrap so that it goes into their system faster.”
Rhodes said the increased demand in the dewormer is creating a problem for those who use the product to treat their animals.
“Every day, I have people – they get very frustrated, because they question why we don’t have ivermectin,” said Rhodes, “I work here [and] I can’t get Ivermectin for my horses to [deworm] and keep them healthy and worm-free.”
According to the Food and Drug Administration, there are two types of ivermectin: one for animals and one for humans. The FDA said Ivermectin for animals is approved to prevent heartworm disease in some animal species, such as horses and cattle.
The FDA said the human ivermectin, which is prescribed by a doctor and picked up at a pharmacy, has only been approved to cure some things but not COVID-19.
Both the FDA and the Centers for Disease Control have said recently that humans should not take ivermectin that is meant for animals.
Dr. Kerry Hendershot, Director of Primary Care at Covenant Medical Center, said ivermectin has been used worldwide since the beginning of the pandemic in third world nations. Despite this, Hendershot said that there have been no definitive studies that show objective evidence that the drug cures COVID-19.
“It’s a doctor and patient decision,” said Hendershot. “If I choose it, I let the patient know this is an off-label use of this medication and we think it may help, but I have no guarantees. I’m going to give you a safe dose that I know is not going to harm you.”
Both the FDA and CDC have said taking large doses of ivermectin is dangerous and could lead to serious complications.
Drugs made for animals are often highly concentrated and could be highly toxic in humans, according to the FDA. Some inactive ingredients in livestock ivermectin products have also not been approved for human consumption, the FDA said.