IIt is literally not snake oil. But how counterfeit COVID-19 wonder drugs go, horse paste comes pretty close.
As coronavirus infections rage among the unvaccinated, those suspected of being vaccinated are advocating a new alleged COVID-19 cure. Thanks to a dubious study of ivermectin, a drug used to treat parasites like scabies in humans, cranks have embraced the drug as a new solution for preventing and treating coronaviruses.
Followers have besieged pharmacists with prescriptions from shady online prescribers, forcing pharmacies to crack down on the anti-parasitic drugs and treat them like opioids. Because human-approved ivermectin recipes have been harder to come by, enthusiasts have sought out rural tractor supply stores in search of ivermectin horse paste (packed with “apple-flavored!”) Noromectin “injection for pigs and cattle”.
“There’s certainly been a noticeable surge in poison control calls for ivermectin abuse,” a Texas-based poison control specialist, who requested anonymity over concerns about the effects, told The Daily Beast via email. “It is clear that a large majority have the belief that they will prevent or treat COVID. However, I want to be careful not to be sensational – there is no epidemic of ivermectin overdose in hospitals, but it is unnecessary suffering as there is no conclusive evidence of any benefit. “
Anything to treat and prevent a disease for which there is a free and widely available vaccine.
In some textbook cases, Facebook users have recommended using the drug against a doctor’s order.
“Personally, I haven’t had this situation, but if I did, I would smuggle horse paste into the hospital and rub it in the armpit myself to save my loved one,” advised one Ivermectin Facebook group member.
Like Trump’s miracle drug, hydroxychloroquine, the hype surrounding ivermectin comes against the advice of the medical community, which is skeptical of the drug’s alleged benefits. Although ivermectin optimists point to some studies of the drug in COVID patients, two of the most striking studies have either been withdrawn or heavily criticized due to errors. A recent review of existing ivermectin studies by the Cochrane medical research group did not decide in favor of the drug.
“Based on the current evidence of very low to low safety, we are unsure about the effectiveness and safety of ivermectin for treating or preventing COVID-19,” said the Cochrane report released on July 28th. “The completed studies are small and only a few are considered to be of high quality […] Overall, the reliable evidence available does not support the use of ivermectin to treat or prevent COVID-19 outside of well-designed randomized trials. ”The report called for further randomized trials of ivermectin in COVID patients.
“Most overdoses are mild and simply cause gastrointestinal discomfort and maybe some drowsiness, but a severe overdose can lead to significant neurological toxicities,” said the poison control officer in Texas. “The irony is that if patients have a severe overdose of ivermectin (which is rare, you really have to slam this stuff to get this off), end up having to be intubated to protect their airways while many of them are taking the ivermectin supposedly treating their COVID … to avoid ultimately being intubated and hooked up to a ventilator. “
While vaccine skeptics suck up tubes of horse paste and call poison centers, the FDA has patiently explained why people shouldn’t take drugs for farm animals. Although they contain the same active ingredient that is approved for humans, veterinary drugs are “highly concentrated because they are used on large animals such as horses and cows that can weigh much more than we do” and consequently “as high doses” for humans be highly toxic. “
This kind of scientific caution is hard to find on the internet, where users on Telegram, Facebook groups, and Amazon comment sections guide each other on how to find and use the drug and evangelize it to others.
Facebook groups provide support and answers to users who are confused, scared, and ignorant. When a poster has a question about how to convert horse cans to human cans, commenters are only too happy to offer suggestions. Your answers can prove to be a threat to your liver health, but they fill the information vacuum for those committed to exploring the limits of medical quackery from COVID.
Posters pose questions that are not readily answered by the legitimate medical community, such as: Group members respond with a table listing the recommended dosages in human-approved ivermectin tablets, or “notches” for the markings on the tubes of horse paste, by patient weight.
The diagram, a frequently included image on Facebook groups promoting the drug, is from Gustavo Aguirre Chang, a Peruvian doctor and evangelist for the use of ivermectin in the treatment of COVID-19.
At Amazon, where customers can buy ivermectin horse paste without a prescription, shoppers speak in coded reviews to extol the drug’s alleged benefits against COVID-19. “My ‘horse’ had no negative side effects and now he is telling me he feels like a million dollars and is now COVID-free,” wrote one customer. “If you are smart enough to weigh yourself and smart enough to do fractions, you can safely do so,” assured another reader.
Amazon has become so popular as a source of horse-to-human ivermectin that the purchases are starting to skew the company’s recommendation engines.
So great is its popularity as a backdoor for people to get ivermectin horse paste that Amazon’s recommendation systems are now driving customers to buy zinc, vitamin C, and quercetin – other popular (and fake) coronavirus home remedies – alongside pulse oximeters, which are often bought by those infected with COVID-19 to monitor their oxygen levels.
“This is actually the primary situation we’re being called about,” said the Texas poison control officer. “The big headache for poison centers is that people bypass their doctor and go to pet supply stores and purchase ivermectin, which can be bought without a prescription, knowing that it is only for large veterinary animals. However, this form of ivermectin is a 1.87% paste [in delicious apple flavor]- it’s so focused because it’s formulated for 1,500 pound horses, not people. If someone doesn’t know what they’re doing, it’s very easy to overdose on the paste. “
When equine ivermectin is not available, believers will search the animal kingdom for other sources. In a forum, a European ivermectin fan complained that he could only find the drug in amounts approved for pet parrots, resulting in a high cost per dose. On Facebook, a woman curious about ivermectin shared a picture of “sheep drowning” and asked if the sheep delouser would help fight COVID-19. The bold label on the bottle warning “NOT SAFE OR APPROVED FOR HUMAN USE, THIS COULD CAUSE SERIOUS PERSONAL INJURY OR DEATH” in the picture could not deter curiosity.
Off-label ivermectin inquiries also reach legitimate pharmacies, much to the displeasure of pharmacists.
A pharmacist who has worked in Missouri and Illinois during the pandemic said he has received about 10 ivermectin prescriptions in the past few months: an unusual number for a drug typically used to treat scabies or severe lice in humans . About six of these 10 prescriptions caused warning signs, such as strangely high dosages or doctors canceling orders on demand.
“If I could use the current dosage information to check the available evidence that the prescription appears to be a valid diagnosis, I would not have any problems,” said the pharmacist, who requested anonymity due to concerns about the impact on work The Daily Beast. The pharmacist called the prescribing doctor for the six unusual orders. Half of these doctors never answered. Of the three who responded, “two canceled the prescription – one electronically and one verbally during the phone call. The third confirmed orally that it was intended to be used to treat an acute COVID infection and did not consider it canceled.
The electronic cancellation came from a prescribing doctor well outside of the state in California.
An Arizona-based pharmacist told The Daily Beast that his pharmacy had been inundated with ivermectin prescriptions from America’s frontline doctors.
The group was founded in 2020 by Dr. Simone Gold, currently awaiting trial over her alleged involvement in the January 6 uprising, and with the help of Dr. Stella Immanuel, the so-called “demon sperm” doctor who professes to believe in extraterrestrials and “reptilian” lords.
After America’s Frontline Doctors spent much of the pandemic promoting hydroxychloroquine, it is now offering tele-health consultations for $ 90 and directing potential patients and visitors who need scripts for hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin to Ravkoo, an online Pharmacy startup based in Florida.
“At the peak we got between 5-10 scripts a week. (Demon sperm ‘MD’ called them on our voicemail). Luckily recently it was 1-2 a month, ”the Arizona pharmacist wrote to The Daily Beast.
“Our biggest problem was when another Rph [registered pharmacist] filled a script for it and the floodgates opened afterwards. The one from the TX demon sperm MD (I forget your name, honestly). The office never answered the phone when we called to question it, we just wrote down and documented the information before we destroyed the receiving device. “
Although the pharmacist was able to argue with would-be ivermectin patients, some colleagues were faced with “women threatening lawsuits, accusing them of exceeding our limits, etc.,” said the Arizona pharmacist.
Pharmacies’ reluctance to fill out dubious ivermectin scripts has led America’s frontline doctors to recruit plaintiffs for a lawsuit. The group posted a plaintiff admission form on their website to search for doctors and patients whose pharmacies have refused to fill out their ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine prescriptions.
Still, at least one customer changed their minds after learning more about the drug.
“Only one person I spoke to actually agreed not to pick it up after telling me that their friend referred them to the telemedicine appointment,” said the Arizona pharmacist. “She had no idea what she was getting or that it was useless.”