Warning About Use of Antiparasitic Drug Ivermectin to Treat COVID-19
PIJAC urges veterinary staff to warn pet owners against using pet care products for humans in the face of research suggesting a treatment for COVID-19.
13 April 2020 — There have been reports of early stage research on the antiparasitic drug ivermectin as a possible treatment for COVID-19: https://www.newsweek.com/ivermectin-head-lice-drug-coronavirus-1496496.
In animal health, ivermectin is most commonly used as a heartworm preventive in dogs and cats, and well as for treating internal and external parasites in many species.
On behalf of the entire responsible pet care community, we warn the public that they should never use pet care products, or any products, for any purpose other than what the label directs. Products marketed for veterinary use or otherwise not for human consumption should never be ingested or used for self-treatment of COVID-19 or any human medical condition.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Center for Veterinary Medicine has issued a letter to stakeholders warning against humans using ivermectin products intended for animals. FDA is concerned about the health of consumers who may self-medicate by taking ivermectin products intended for animals, thinking they can be a substitute for ivermectin intended for humans. People should never take animal drugs, as the FDA has only evaluated their safety and effectiveness in the particular animal species for which they are labeled. These animal drugs can cause serious harm in people. People should not take any form of ivermectin unless it has been prescribed to them by a licensed health care provider and is obtained through a legitimate source.¹
- People should never take animal drugs, as the FDA has only evaluated their safety and effectiveness in the particular animal species for which they are labeled. These animal drugs can cause serious harm in people.
- People should not take any form of ivermectin unless it has been prescribed by a licensed health care provider and is obtained through a legitimate source.
- Ivermectin is an important part of a parasite control program for certain species and should only be given to animals for approved uses or as prescribed by a veterinarian in compliance with the requirements for extra-label drug use.
- If you are having difficulty locating a particular ivermectin product for your animal(s), FDA recommends that you consult with your veterinarian.
The FDA has established a cross-agency task force dedicated to closely monitoring for fraudulent COVID-19 products that reaches out to major retailers to ask for their help in monitoring online marketplaces. Products that claim to prevent, diagnose, treat, or cure COVID-19 are subject to FDA investigation and potential enforcement action if they have not demonstrated safety and effectiveness for that intended use. The task force has already worked with retailers to remove dozens of these types of product listings online.
Please help us protect public health by alerting FDA of anyone claiming to have a product to prevent or cure COVID-19 and to help safeguard human and animal health by reporting any of these products to [email protected] or 1-888-InfoFDA (1-888-463-6332).
The most effective ways to protect yourself and others against COVID-19 are to avoid being exposed to the virus and taking steps to protect yourself as recommended by CDC:²
- wash your hands frequently
- avoid close contact
- stay home as much as possible
- cover coughs and sneezes
- cover your mouth and nose with a cloth face cover when around others
- clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily
Check out more information on COVID-19 from Today’s Veterinary Practice here.
- FDA. Ivermectin Intended for Animals: Letter to Stakeholders – Do Not Use in Humans as a Treatment for COVID-19. fda.gov/safety/medical-product-safety-information/ivermectin-intended-animals-letter-stakeholders-do-not-use-humans-treatment-covid-19. Accessed April 13, 2020.
- FDA. How to Protect Yourself & Others. cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prepare/prevention.html. Accessed April 13, 2020.