How misinformation about COVID generated the sudden high demand for an animal medicine

Emerson Animal Hospital had the last 10 milliliters of ivermectin left.

For months, the West Point, Mississippi Veterinary Center saw its supply of the drug dwindle. Karen Emerson, the veterinarian who owns the hospital, started 2021 with a 500-milliliter bottle of ivermectin, a drug she uses to kill parasites in dogs, chickens and other patients. However, when the container emptied and his hospital staff tried to get more, they could only get a 50 milliliter vial. Everyone else told them: Nothing is available.

So Emerson began rationing the drug to feed to snakes and other exotic animals for which he had no other deworming treatment. He urged dog owners to pay for a replacement drug, which is more readily available but can cost up to seven times as much.

Emerson was surprised by the lack of ivermectin as it was always in abundance. However, he understood what happened after people flocked to his clinic and requested the drug to treat COVID-19.

“I really think that’s why we have a shortage because so many people are using it,” he said.

For more than a year, misinformation that ivermectin is effective in treating or preventing the coronavirus has been rife on social media, podcasts, and radio talk shows. Although the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has said the drug is not approved to cure COVID and has warned people not to take it, media personalities who have sowed questions about COVID vaccines like podcaster Joe Rogan, Ivermectin for this purpose.

Inaccuracies have resulted in some people overdosing on certain formulations of the drug, which has preoccupied doctors and hospitals. At the bottom of the misinformation trail, however, are people like Emerson, who regularly use the drug for the animal treatments for which it has been approved.

Although some versions of ivermectin can be used to treat nits and other ailments in humans, other formulations (available in forms such as liquid and paste) are common in equine and livestock farming to get rid of worms and parasites. Increasingly, people are trying to get these animal products to avoid or fight the coronavirus, said farmers, ranchers and suppliers.

The demand has had an impact on the equine and farm animal world. Jeffers, a pet supplies retailer, recently increased the price of ivermectin paste from $ 2.99 to $ 6.99 per tube. Overwhelmed with orders, a farm supply store in Las Vegas began selling the drug only to customers who could prove they owned a horse. In California, a station wagon said the orders on the waiting list were so large that it was number 600 for the next batch.

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