MACON, Ga. — Several feed stores in Central Georgia say they are sold out of the drug called Ivermectin.
One employee at the Tractor Supply in Byron told 13 WMAZ that they can't keep it on the shelves over the last few days.
13WMAZ tried to find some of the animal dewormer to see what all was listed on the label.
We called over a dozen stores before finding one small feed store in Macon that had it in stock. The employee even asked to see if we were buying the product for an animal, later saying "Please don't say you're buying this for COVID."
Some stores have resorted to posting a warning sign next to the products-- highlighting they are for animal use only.
Dr. George Harrison, chief medical officer at Fairview Park Hospital in Dublin, said in a statement, "We have not had any Ivermectin poisoning cases at Fairview Park Hospital, though several patients have come to our ER that are taking the drug."
Are animal dewormers safe to use to prevent or treat COVID-19?
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
Gaylord Lopez, Director of the Georgia Poison Center
Randall Tackett, Pharmaceutical Sciences professor at the University of Georgia
No, animal dewormers are not safe to prevent or treat COVID-19. Ivermectin is not approved by the FDA as a treatment for COVID-19.
WHAT WE FOUND
Dr. Gaylord Lopez, director of the Georgia Poison Center, says typically they get under a half dozen calls about ivermectin in a year. In the month of August, he says they've received at least 15 calls. In some of those cases, people used animal dewormer. He showed one example of a caller saying they used a Ivermectin dewormer for sheep.
"People are playing Dr. Google, and they're thinking that they can read an article, they can read a post and all of a sudden it's got to be the truth, and in some cases, you know some of these injections have resulted in mild effects and others could be life threatening," Lopez said.
This new trend has led the FDA to send out a warning. In a tweet Saturday, the FDA said, "You are not a horse. You are not a cow. Seriously, y'all. Stop it."
"When you see a picture of a cow or a horse or a sheep, it's amazing to me that people would rather take that based on what they might have read on the internet, as opposed to, you know learning more about the vaccines," Lopez said.
Lopez, as well as UGA Pharmacy Professor Randall Tackett say ivermectin is sometimes prescribed to treat humans with some conditions.
"Parasitic roundworms, head lice, skin conditions like rosacea," Lopez said.
"But they're we're using a very limited dose. We're taking into account all the other things that are there," Tackett said.
But a big difference is the dosage for humans and animals. One product we bought from a feed store is clearly labeled only for horses and can treat an animal up to 1,250 lbs.
"They are making up the dose or they're coming up with a dose someone else has suggested. Many of these animal medications may actually be at concentrations much higher than what a human would normally use," Tackett said.
Ingesting the drug can lead to a nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, low blood pressure, seizures or even death, according to the U.S. FDA.
"In some cases, depending on the disease state you might have currently or the different type of medical condition or medicine you're taking, it can cause a whole host of problems," Lopez said.
Lastly, Ivermectin is NOT an FDA approved treatment for COVID-19.
As for if Ivermectin can potentially be used to treat COVID-19, Lopez and Tackett say that's what researchers are still looking into it.
But as of now, there are too many unknowns about this drug being used to treat the virus. It is unsafe to use to treat COVID-19.
The Georgia Poison Center Helpline is 1-800-222-1222.