‘You are not a horse’: Knoxville surgeon urges caution on using Ivermectin to fight COVID-19

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) posted an unexpected and unusual warning on Twitter this past week. It read, “You are not a horse. You are not a cow. Seriously, y’all. Stop it,” and warns people not to use Ivermectin to treat COVID-19.

There are a few things important to note. First, people need to know the FDA has not approved Ivermectin for use in treating or preventing COVID-19 in humans. Secondly, people need to know the FDA has approved Ivermectin tablets at very specific doses for some parasitic worms. There are also topical formulas for head lice and skin conditions like rosacea.

Dr. Richard Briggs, a surgeon and state senator representing Knoxville, spoke about how Ivermectin can be dangerous for humans.

“People are going down to the farm store and buying Ivermectin that you would normally be using to worm your 1,000 or 1,500 pound horse or bull or cows and they’re trying to mix that up and take that in human-sized doses,” said Briggs. “There have been people admitted to the hospital, there have been people admitted to the ICUs that have literally overdosed by taking horse-sized doses of this Ivermectin in human sized people.”

Briggs also explained how right now some health professionals could be prescribing it. “Off-label uses is used fairly commonly for drugs that have been approved by the FDA and are fully licensed by the FDA by using them for things that aren’t on the label,” he said.

Dr. Briggs ended, saying the best line of defense against the virus are the approved vaccines.

“I know some people have said that they don’t want to put something into their body like a shot,” Briggs began. “I would caution them on putting something into your body like Ivermectin that is not designed for that use.”

The Owner and Pharmacist of Compounding Pharmacy of America in Knoxville explained how his field could come into play with this debate. “For most people commercial drugs work great, but there are a subset of the population who have intolerances or maybe a dose that is not commercially available works better for them,” said Matthew Poteet.

The FDA describes drug compounding as combining ingredients to create a medication tailored to a patient. The FDA also states on their website they do not approve compounded drugs.

Poteet said at his location they are currently working with Ivermectin. “Some prescribers are using it as prophylactic dosing and for a treatment of non-serious cases of COVID,” he said.

Poteet also said there are small trials across the country and world to test the drug’s efficacy against the coronavirus.

While it’s approved for other illnesses as described above, experts warn against people running out and getting it themselves. That’s something local feed stores are seeing more of since large doses of Ivermectrin are usually sold as a de-worming agent used for horses and other livestock.

“Animal grade drugs are very different that human grade drugs,” said Poteet.

WATE 6 On Your Side also reached out to feed stores around the Knoxville area. Many of them said they are experiencing Ivermectrin shortages because people are purchasing what’s on their shelves so quickly when many of them don’t even have livestock.

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