PEI

'It's extremely dangerous': P.E.I. feed mills getting requests for ivermectin for COVID-19

Some P.E.I. vendors of veterinary medicines have been receiving inquiries from people looking to buy ivermectin, following misinformation spreading on social media that it can be used to treat COVID-19.

‘COVID is a virus, and so therefore, it needs to be treated completely differently than a worm’

People are attempting to buy horse medicine for human use. (Lone Star Tack & Feed Inc.)

Some P.E.I. vendors of veterinary medicines have been receiving inquiries from people looking to buy ivermectin, following misinformation spreading on social media that it can be used to treat COVID-19.

CBC News has spoken with three companies that have received unusual requests for the drug.

"It's extremely dangerous," Mary Van Den Broek-Grant, manager of the Cardigan Feed Mill, told Island Morning host Laura Chapin.

"I am shocked about the whole thing."

In the format sold by the mills, ivermectin is a deworming medicine for livestock, although there is a tablet form for humans to treat some parasites and a topical format can be prescribed for head lice and rosacea.

Some trials were run to determine whether the drug has anti-viral properties, but reviews found no evidence the drug was effective. 

As formulated for animals, it is potentially dangerous because it is dosed for much larger animals than humans. It can cause vomiting, diarrhea, low blood pressure, allergic reactions, dizziness, seizures, coma and even death.

Better education needed

Health Canada and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration have warned people off using the drug.

Van Den Broek-Grant said the misinformation is a sign that the public needs better science education.

"We need to educate the public about what is a bacteria, what is a virus, what's a fungi, what's a protozoa," she said.

"COVID is a virus, and so therefore, it needs to be treated completely differently than a worm, which is a protozoa."

Van Den Broek-Grant has told her staff to be aware of unusual requests for ivermectin.

Generally all of Cardigan Feed Mill's customers are regulars, she said. If a request comes in from someone they don't know, staff will ask questions to ensure the shopper understands the proper use of ivermectin.

Corrections

  • An earlier version of this story did not mention that some lower-dose forms of ivermectin can be prescribed for human use, though not to treat viral infections.
    Sep 07, 2021 11:36 AM AT

With files from Laura Chapin

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