- Ivermectin, a “dangerous” and unproven COVID-19 treatment, is mainly used as a livestock dewormer.
- Horse owners are struggling to buy the drug because demand is so high, The Washington Post reported.
- Demand has been driven by right-wing media figures baselessly touting it as a “miracle cure.”
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
Horse owners, who use equine ivermectin to deworm their animals, are struggling to get their hands on the drug as Americans scramble to buy the unproven COVID-19 treatment, according to reports.
Those hoping to purchase the antiparasitic treatment for their livestock have been facing empty shelves, The Washington Post reported.
Syringes of ivermectin paste sold online by QC Supply, a Nebraska-based livestock supply distributor, are out of stock, the paper reported. The paste is also unavailable for online orders via the website of Fleet Farm, a Midwest retailer, The Washington Post added.
Last month, News Channel 5 reported that a Las Vegas feed store said it was sold out of the drug. It blamed the shortage on people purchasing it as an unsafe COVID-19 treatment.
The drug is also sold out in Florida, which is a “problem” for the state’s agricultural industry, according to Florida’s agriculture commissioner Nikki Fried. She told reporters: “This is a product that is supposed to be used for animals, and so, of course, when the feedstock is out – whether it’s for cows or for horses – and our industry can’t get them, that’s a problem.”
Horse owners are reportedly frustrated with the shortage. Cindy Greely, who owns horses in northern Wisconsin, told The Washington Post that stores appear to be limiting the amount of ivermectin that customers can buy, or they are completely out of stock. “It can be hard to find,” she said.
Greely added that prices of ivermectin have “more than doubled.”
She’s not alone; several horse owners told BuzzFeed News that they’ve noticed significant price increases. According to the media outlet, a $US7 ($AU10) deworming treatment is selling for as much as $US44 ($AU61) on Amazon.
BuzzFeed News also reported that the site camelcamelcamel.com, which tracks the price fluctuations of Amazon listings, shows that a six-pack of Durvet paste, which had remained steady at $US22 ($AU30) for most of the year, spiked in price in late August to as high as $US277 ($AU381).
Demand has rocketed in recent weeks, The Washington Post said, because high-profile figures have touted ivermectin as an alternative – but unproven – remedy for COVID-19.
-U.S. FDA (@US_FDA) August 21, 2021
Ivermectin tablets are approved at very specific doses for humans to treat head lice, rosacea, and some parasitic worms, according to the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA), but self-administering it can be “dangerous.”
According to NPR, there has been a dramatic surge in calls from poison control centers from people who are self-medicating with ivermectin.
The Oregon Poison Center managed 25 cases involving ivermectin being used to try and treat or prevent COVID-19 between August 1 and September 14, The Washington Post reported.
Ivermectin has not been authorized or approved for use in preventing or treating COVID-19 in humans. The FDA said that “currently available data do not show ivermectin is effective against COVID-19.” Clinical trials to determine efficacy are ongoing.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has also advised against taking ivermectin.