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Health officials warn people misusing horse, cattle drug to ‘cure,’ treat COVID-19

C.O. stores see rush on drug used to kill parasites in livestock, for other limited uses in humans

SISTERS, Ore. (KTVZ) --The drug is called Ivermectin, and feed and supply stores can't keep it on their shelves. Some people believe it can treat Covid-19. One Central Oregon store says they sold out of the drug in just a week.

Travis Gothberg, assistant manager at Sisters Feed & Supply, said Wednesday he's noticed people coming in looking for the drug.

"They read something online, they think, 'Oh here's a quick, cheap solution."

A quick, cheap solution -- for de-worming horses and cattle.

That's what the drug Ivermectin is intended for. But some believe it could help prevent or treat Covid-19.

In a small town with a big equine community, Sisters Feed & Supply says 90 percent of their customers are regulars. So when Ivermectin started flying off the shelf in recent weeks, employees noticed.

"Noticing of customers coming in that we never previously had," Gothberg told NewsChannel 21 on Wednesday. "And them not knowing where to find it and sometimes -- how to correctly pronounce it."

Gothberg says some people don't even try to hide the fact they're buying it.

"A few customers openly admitting that - 'Yeah, I'm buying this because I want to use it as a COVID preventative."

The Food and Drug Administration is urging people to stop taking it for that use.

U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy also spoke about the misuse of the drug, saying, "Ivermectin is not a recommended treatment for Covid-19. It is not a recommended drug to prevent Covid-19."

Not only are there side-effects for taking Ivermectin, but the drug is highly concentrated, meaning the dosage is intended for large animals.

Gothberg also told NewsChannel 21 that Ivermectin isn't even the most popular type of de-worming medicine in the equine community.

Some stores are unable to stock the drug, because distributors don't have it. Others have put up signs telling people to not buy it as a COVID cure.

Gothberg says horses need to be de-wormed a few times a year.

"If this holds out, and there's a continued shortage of Ivermectin, then there could be some repercussions to people's animals," He said.

Sisters Feed & Supply say it might have to restrict sale of the drug if this continues.

There is some Ivermectin that's safe for people -- it's used to treat parasites, lice, and skin conditions. But, the FDA says that type is only safe at very specific doses. The agency also says the other ingredients in the de-worming medicine have not been evaluated for people to use.

Here is a link to information regarding Ivermectin.

Article Topic Follows: Coronavirus

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Carly Keenan

Carly Keenan is a multimedia journalist and producer for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Carly here.


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