JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – It’s not unusual for customers at Standard Seed & Feed to buy ivermectin, but the owner of the Jacksonville store said Thursday he’s never seen it fly off the shelves like it has lately.
Store owner Frank Wallmeyer said he usually stocks up on the livestock medicine by buying a dozen bottles at a time. Yet ever since people have been seeking it out as a form of self-medication against COVID-19, it has exploded in popularity.
“Now we’re buying it 100 at a time,” Wallmeyer told News4Jax. “They’re using it for COVID. And it’s a horrible, horrible disease and people are desperate and they’re willing to try anything they think will work.”
Ivermectin does have medicinal applications for people. It can be used to treat lice, scabies and other parasitic infections, but it’s typically prescribed by a medical professional, not bought in bulk at feed stores.
The product’s newfound popularity has already seen troubling results in Florida.
According to the Florida Poison Control Center, there’s been a 282-percent increase in calls about people misusing and eating ivermectin throughout the state in the last month alone. Some of those calls came from Duval County with people reporting symptoms like dizziness, nausea, vomiting and elevated heart rate.
“Some of those severe toxicities can be anywhere between having difficulties walking, patients ultimately going into seizures, and even progressing to comas,” said Chiemela Ubani, a toxicology fellow for the Poison Control Center. “There have been case reports of patients developing respiratory failure due to this medication.”
If a patient is using ivermectin, Ubani cautioned, it should only be done under their medical provider’s guidance and supervision.
The National Institutes of Health is funding a trial of the drug as a potential treatment for COVID-19. But the treatment is not approved by the Food and Drug Administration, or any other regulatory authority, for use to treat the deadly disease caused by novel coronavirus.
The FDA has, however, approved ivermectin’s use in both humans and animals to treat parasitic worms, head lice and skin conditions.
While there are clinical trials underway to examine ivermectin’s effect on COVID-19, the current evidence available is inconclusive and its efficacy continues to be studied.
Despite the FDA issuing a warning earlier this week that people should not use the product to treat COVID-19, it can be found in some Jacksonville pharmacies and News4Jax has received unverified reports of some doctors prescribing it.
You are not a horse. You are not a cow. Seriously, y'all. Stop it. https://t.co/TWb75xYEY4— U.S. FDA (@US_FDA) August 21, 2021
It might be flying off Wallmeyer’s store shelves, that hasn’t kept him from telling people to do their homework on what they’re buying.
“We encourage everyone to do their research,” he said.