The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is warning people not to take a veterinary drug called Ivermectin to treat COVID-19. In a statement, the FDA said it has received reports that Americans have done so in a desperate attempt to fight the virus.
"Never use medications intended for animals on yourself. Ivermectin preparations for animals are very different from those approved for humans," the FDA said in a consumer update.
People with COVID-19 have reported taking a version of Ivermectin that is intended for horses. Those who have done so have required medical care, including hospitalization.
The FDA said there is some misinformation out there that has led to increased interest in the use of Ivermectin as a treatment for COVID-19. In June, Australian researchers found that the drug inhibited the replication of SARS-CoV-2 in a petri dish. However, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has warned that this effect has not been replicated in humans.
"Despite this in vitro activity, no clinical trials have reported a clinical benefit for ivermectin in patients with these viruses," the NIH said.
Can cause adverse reactions
The FDA said that Ivermectin, like other drugs intended for large animals, isn’t suitable for the human body because it’s highly concentrated.
"There's a lot of misinformation around, and you may have heard that it's OK to take large doses of ivermectin. That is wrong," the FDA said. "Even the levels of ivermectin for approved uses can interact with other medications, like blood thinners.”
The agency cautioned that the veterinary drug can have other adverse effects in humans.
“You can also overdose on ivermectin, which can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, hypotension (low blood pressure), allergic reactions (itching and hives), dizziness, ataxia (problems with balance), seizures, coma and even death," the agency stated.
"If you have a prescription for ivermectin for an FDA-approved use, get it from a legitimate source and take it exactly as prescribed," the FDA advised.