Saskatoon farm supply store selling out of livestock drug touted as COVID-19 treatment

A Saskatoon farm supply store is selling out of a drug meant for large animals as misinformation spreads about the medication fighting COVID-19.

People started taking Ivermectin, an anti-parasite drug, after some claimed it could treat or prevent COVID-19 – but Health Canada is warning against it.

It issued a safety alert about Ivermectin, saying “Canadians should never consume health products intended for animals because of the potential serious health dangers posed by them.” The Saskatchewan Health Authority has also sent out a similar alert.

Although the drug does have limited uses for humans, Health Canada said to avoid taking human versions of the drug to treat COVID-19.

Early’s Farm and Garden Centre in Saskatoon sells multiple versions of Ivermectin, including oral liquid, paste, pour-over and injectable. General Manager Derek Bloski said the store has sold out of the oral liquid, while the paste is flying off the shelves more than normal.

“There’s been a significant increase in sales on a couple of different sizes. Whether it’s single dose or a 10 dose, those numbers have seemed to have ramped up fairly significantly this year,” Bloski told CTV News.

He said the store has not been asking customers why they’re buying the medication.

However, with the increase in sales, Bloski said he knows there’s more to it than a dramatic spike in worms in livestock.

“The assumption is that they are using it for a horse, but based on the latest trend and the news out there, obviously some is targeted for a different use,” Bloski said.

These are the FACTS about Ivermectin:
▪️it's a drug used to treat/prevent parasites in animals
▪️it's not approved in #Sask for use in treating or preventing COVID-19 in humans
▪️it's not an anti-viral (anti-virals treat viruses, COVID-19 is a virus)
▪️large doses can cause harm

— Saskatchewan Health Authority (@SaskHealth) August 26, 2021

Chris Clark, associate professor of large animal medicine at the Western College of Veterinary Medicine, said he was shocked when he heard people were using the common de-wormer for COVID-19.

“These drugs that we use in large animal medicine to treat cattle and horses, (they’re) designed for cattle and horses. They are designed to be absorbed through their guts,” Clark said.

“In fact, we have a different form of Ivermectin for horses and cows because their guts are set up differently. These drugs are not designed to be taken by a human.”

Clark said it’s not safe for humans to take Ivermectin meant for large animals because of the high doses.

“The drugs aren’t proven, there’s serious health risks, and there’s a very, very serious risk for overdose. Nobody should ever take a drug that’s designed for an animal and take it or give it to a family member,” he said.

“You’re literally going into a minefield. We don’t know what could happen, but the risks are real.” 

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