• By The Financial District


Veterinary forms of the drug ivermectin, which is used to deworm horses and kill head lice, are dangerous for humans and they cannot stop COVID-19 infections.

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Reporting for Live Science, senior writer Rachael Rettner said ivermectin was developed for animals, and people engaging in self-medication using the drug run the risk of bringing themselves close to death.

Ivermectin is often used to treat or prevent parasitic diseases in animals, such as heartworm, according to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA.) Among humans, some forms of the drug are used to treat parasitic worms, and a topical version of it is sometimes used to treat head lice.

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Recently, misinformation about ivermectin has led some people to take the drug for COVID-19, even though it's not approved for this use. The idea of using ivermectin for COVID-19 arose last year when a study from researchers in Australia found that large doses of the drug showed activity against the novel coronavirus in lab dishes, the Washington Post reported.

But studies in humans have been limited and showed mixed results. The Infectious Disease Society of America recommends against using ivermectin for COVID-19 outside of clinical trials.

Some people are taking veterinary forms of the drug because those formulations are easier to obtain than the ones prescribed for people, according to the Washington Post.

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That can have dangerous consequences: Veterinary forms of the drug are meant for big animals, like horses and cows, come in very large doses that can be highly toxic for humans, according to the FDA.

The agency says it has received multiple reports of people being hospitalized after self-medicating with a form of ivermectin meant for horses. Among humans, overdoses of the drug can cause nausea, vomiting, low blood pressure, allergic reactions, seizures, coma, and even death, the FDA said.

And even smaller doses of the veterinary drug can pose risks. That's because many inactive ingredients in animal medications haven't been studied for use in people, and these inactive ingredients could pose risks and affect how the drug is metabolized in humans, the FDA argued.


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