FDA Warns Against Using Farm Animal Medication to Treat COVID

NEW YORK -
Horses line up at the fence, at Beyond The Roses Equine Rescue in Emmett, Mich., on Aug. 9. (Brian Wells/The Times Herald via AP)

The Food and Drug Administration is urging Americans not to attempt to treat coronavirus with medication meant for farm animals.

“You are not a horse. You are not a cow. Seriously, y’all. Stop it,” the FDA tweeted humorously, before directing people to a serious article detailing the potential negative side effects of the tablet medication ivermectin, which is used to treat lice and worms in horses and cattle, in people.

The FDA reported there have been multiple instances of patients who have required medical support and been hospitalized after self-medicating with ivermectin intended for horses.

Ivermectin can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, hypotension (low blood pressure), allergic reactions (itching and hives), dizziness, seizures, coma and even death. It can negatively interact with other medications, such as blood thinners.

“Never use medications intended for animals on yourself,” the FDA wrote in its post. “Ivermectin preparations for animals are very different from those approved for humans.”

Ivermectin can be approved for people, but in the form of topical creams to combat head lice and skin conditions, and occasionally in pill form to treat intestinal conditions caused by worms. The tablets made for animals contain significantly higher dosages.

A study published by Benha University in Egypt indicated it might be effective in treating the coronavirus. The study was soon retracted after researchers in London noticed significant portions of the study were plagiarized and alleged many of the results were falsified, according to the Guardian. However, rumors that ivermectin would be helpful began to circulate on social media.