PLANT CITY, Fla. - Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried says the Florida Poison Control Center is seeing an uptick in calls and cases from people taking Ivermectin, a medication used to treat parasites in cows and horses.
The Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have warned the public about the dangers of humans taking animal drugs, and that Ivermectin has not been authorized nor approved to treat or prevent COVID-19.
Feed shops across the country, and in the Tampa Bay Area, have been noticing an increase in the number of people coming in or calling to see if they have Ivermectin.
"I would say last week we were averaging 100 a day, maybe, or more," said Bill Glisson, the owner of G5 Feed and Outdoor in Plant City. "They would come in and ask for it by name, Ivermectin, some of them would have a picture of the bottle or package on their phone, so we could quickly get a sense that there was a whole new line of people coming in, and once we figured it out what their purpose was, we moved it off the shelves and kept it in the dark, so to speak, until legitimate customers come in for their livestock."
Glisson says people would make up bizarre reasons for why they needed the medication.
"I can remember a lady coming in and telling me she had heard about a cattle de-wormer that, if you put it in your bath water it would make warts fall off. So they were quite imaginative in their requests," Glisson shared.
He says the volume of calls about the medication has dwindled in the last three or four days.
For poison emergencies, immediately call the Florida Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222. You may also text POISON to 797979 to add poison control as a contact in your phone.
Background on Ivermectin from the FDA:
- FDA has not approved Ivermectin for use in treating or preventing COVID-19 in humans. Ivermectin tablets are approved at very specific doses for some parasitic worms, and there are topical (on the skin) formulations for head lice and skin conditions like rosacea. Ivermectin is not an anti-viral (a drug for treating viruses).
- Taking large doses of this drug is dangerous and can cause serious harm.
- If you have a prescription for Ivermectin for an FDA-approved use, get it from a legitimate source and take it exactly as prescribed.
- Some forms of Ivermectin are used in animals to prevent heartworm disease and certain internal and external parasites. It’s important to note that these products are different from the ones for people, and safe when used as prescribed for animals, only.
- Never use medications intended for animals on yourself. Ivermectin preparations for animals are very different from those approved for humans.