‘You are not a horse’, the US FDA says, urging against ivermectin

Business Insider US
This picture shows the tablets of Ivermectin drugs in Tehatta, West Benga, India on 19 May on 2021.
Soumyabrata Roy/NurPhoto via Getty Images
  • The US FDA says it has received reports of people self-medicating with drugs intended for horses.
  • Some people think ivermectin, an anti-parasitic drug, could work against Covid-19.
  • The FDA has not approved ivermectin for use in Covid-19 patients.
  • Visit Business Insider SA's homepage for more stories.

The US Food and Drug Administration issued a plea on Saturday for Americans to stop taking a popular anti-parasitic drug for livestock to treat or prevent Covid-19.

"You are not a horse. You are not a cow. Seriously, y'all. Stop it," the agency tweeted.

In an accompanying statement, the FDA said it received multiple reports of patients who were treated or hospitalised after "self-medicating with ivermectin intended for horses."

"It's perhaps not surprising that some consumers are looking at unconventional treatments," the FDA said. "There seems to be a growing interest in a drug called ivermectin to treat humans with Covid-19."

The medication is often used on horses and cows to treat or prevent parasites. Some studies involving ivermectin showed promising early results in preventing the SARS-CoV-2 virus from replicating in cell cultures, prompting widespread use of the human formulation of the drug throughout Latin America.

But the US National Institutes of Health said most of the existing studies on ivermectin in Covid-19 patients had "incomplete information and significant methodological limitations" that prevented it from drawing definitive conclusions on how effective it could be.

The FDA said in its statement that "some initial research is underway," but the agency has not approved the drug for use in preventing or treating Covid-19.

The FDA also said ivermectin formulations for animals are "very different" than the ones formulated for humans, given that animal drugs are highly concentrated to account for their heavier weight.

On Friday, Mississippi's health department issued an alert to healthcare providers, warning them that the Mississippi Poison Control Center had received a spike in calls from people who had ingested animal formulations of the drug.

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