healthHealth and Medicine

FDA Begs People To Stop Taking Horse De-Wormer For COVID-19


Jack Dunhill


Jack Dunhill

Social Media Coordinator and Staff Writer

Jack is a Social Media Coordinator and Staff Writer for IFLScience, with a degree in Medical Genetics specializing in Immunology.

Social Media Coordinator and Staff Writer


Horses are quite a bit larger than humans, and the drugs reflect that. Image Credit: wavebreakmedia/

As the world continues to battle COVID-19 and nations try to wrestle the virus under control, some people are turning to every drug, home treatment, or obscure remedy out there to protect themselves from the virus – well, for some, everything but a vaccine.  

One such drug is Ivermectin, an anti-parasitic that is most commonly used in horse and cow de-worming. This is not the ideal drug to treat COVID-19 infection, but that’s exactly how some people are using it – and the problem has become so bad that the FDA has now released a written warning to stop taking it for this purpose. 


Included in the tweet directed at those using it against COVID-19, they also released an article explaining Ivermectin, its dangers, and why it is certainly not approved for use against the virus. 

While Ivermectin’s main use is in large animal de-worming, it is also approved for use in humans for parasitic diseases. Those with intestinal worms, head lice, and the skin condition rosacea can be prescribed it, as it effectively kills parasitic organisms and low doses have been clinically proven to be safe.

Through the COVID-19 pandemic, some studies indicated Ivermectin may have the potential to kill a multitude of different viruses, including those behind Zika, yellow fever, and even COVID-19. These studies were in vitro (under controlled lab conditions) and may or may not represent their ability to do the same in humans.

In fact, the authors of a paper in The Journal Of Antibiotics point out that "The blood levels of ivermectin at safe therapeutic doses are in the 20–80 [nanograms per milliliter] range, while the activity against SARS-CoV2 in cell culture is in the microgram range." For context, there are 1,000 nanograms in a microgram.


As a result, the authors proposed human studies, and the FDA confirmed they are looking into the drug as a potential anti-viral treatment. However, these studies remain in their infancy and initial trials are still underway. Ivermectin is certainly not approved for use against COVID-19, and scientists have little idea how effective – if at all – the drug could be.

That hasn’t stopped many people. Recently, there has been an influx of reports of people using Ivermectin as both a preventative drug and a treatment after infection of COVID-19, with some news anchors from Fox news also pushing the drug’s use. With no legitimate way of sourcing Ivermectin for this purpose, people have been turning to alternative sources – horse and cow de-worming products.  

As the FDA points out, this poses a multitude of problems. Firstly, large doses of Ivermectin can be seriously dangerous and highly toxic, and products designed for large animals often contain doses far too high for human consumption. Despite the warnings, some are even opting to take extremely high doses out of choice, seemingly expecting a better result.  

It also may not just be the drug itself that could cause harm to humans – drugs intended for animals may contain ingredients not approved for use in humans and do not go through human trials to judge any potential side effects. People should never ingest drugs formulated for animals. 


If you wish to remain protected from COVID-19, wear a mask, maintain social distancing, and get vaccinated. Stay far away from potentially dangerous medications – particularly those designed for horses.


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  • ivermectin