MONDAY, Aug. 23, 2021 (HealthDay News) -- Taking a drug meant for horses and cattle to prevent or treat COVID-19 is dangerous and could be fatal, the U.S Food and Drug Administration warns.
The agency has received multiple reports of people who have been hospitalized after "self-medicating with ivermectin intended for horses," the agency said in a consumer update.
Ivermectin, which is not an anti-viral drug, is generally used to treat or prevent parasites in animals, NBC News reported.
"You are not a horse. You are not a cow. Seriously, y'all. Stop it," the FDA tweeted on Saturday.
No form of ivermectin has been approved to treat or prevent COVID-19, the agency emphasized. It said it was compelled to issue a warning due to "a lot of misinformation" around the drug, according to the update.
"You may have heard that it's okay to take large doses of ivermectin. That is wrong," the FDA said.
The agency clarified that the FDA-approved ivermectin tablets that treat people with certain conditions caused by parasitic worms as well as topical formulations used for head lice and skin conditions like rosacea are different from the drug used on animals. Ivermectin tablets and topical formulations for humans have "very specific doses" that are significantly smaller than the doses meant for animals, the agency explained.
Also, "many inactive ingredients found in animal products aren't evaluated for use in people," the FDA warned. "In some cases, we don't know how those inactive ingredients will affect how ivermectin is absorbed in the human body."
"These animal drugs are often highly concentrated because they are used for large animals like horses and cows, which can weigh a lot more than" a human, the FDA added. "Such high doses can be highly toxic in humans."
The FDA said that ivermectin overdoses can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, low blood pressure, allergic reactions, dizziness, problems with balance, seizures, coma and even death, NBC News reported.
Visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for more on COVID treatments.