CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – A well known drug commonly used on livestock and household pets could be putting humans at risk if they are trying to self-medicate during the COVID-19 pandemic.

For horse owners the drug Ivermectin is associated with a deworming paste that can remove dangerous parasites. But a recent study out of Australia is linking the drug to a possible treatment for COVID-19. The research is still preliminary and veterinarians say getting the drug from your local feed store for human use is not a safe idea.

“Ivermectin itself is a very safe drug and it is actually used in people around the world to treat a variety of parasitic infections,” said Soren Rodning, DVM, an Alabama Extension veterinarian. “The problem with animal Ivermectin products is that they may contain other inactive ingredients or the concentration may not be right for human use.”

The livestock and pet medications are clearly labeled as not for use in humans.

So far the drug has only been tested with COVID-19 in a lab setting. That is known as in vitro testing. It has not been tests in vivo.

“So in vitro would would describe a scenario in which a trial was conducted in a lab maybe in a petri dish,” Rodning said. “In vivo would describe a study that was conducted in animals or in people.”

Still some people are scrambling to scoop up the drug from animal supply stores.

Some online retailers are responding by limiting the quantity of Ivermectin products people can purchase if they aren’t existing customers. Tractor Supply Company briefly pulled all of the Ivermectin supplies from the shelves. They have since restocked everything but the injectable form.

“We have removed, out of an abundance of caution, the injectable form given the potential risk for improper and potentially harmful off label use,” said Mackenzie Goldman
Senior Specialist, Public Relations at Tractor Supply Company. “There are two general types of Ivermectin. One is suitable for humans, and one is only suitable for animals. Tractor Supply sells the type only suitable for animals. While recent news reports indicate that human suitable Ivermectin may have an antiviral impact that has not been scientifically proven.”

The American Veterinary Medical Association has sent guidance to members as well suggesting they advise clients against the personal use Ivermectin intended for animals.

For some pet owners though it is leading to difficulty getting the medications they need to care for their animals.