The drug, which is used to de-worm horses and other farm animals, has been touted as a miracle cure for Covid-19, despite there being no evidence that it can treat the novel virus and amid stark warnings from health professionals about the danger of the drug.
But, thanks to stocks of animal-grade ivermectin being purchased by those who believe it will prevent them from falling ill with coronavirus, there is now a shortage of the drug for use in animals.
And farmers suggest this could mean livestock is unecessarily sent to slaughter.
An investigation by The New York Times found that bottles of ivermectin - described by one supplier as “liquid gold” - had become almost impossible for veterinarians and farmers to get hold of, with one purchaser desceribing the experience of being 600th in line for supplies of the drug.
One farmer, Marc Filion, from Keegan-Filion Farm in South Carolina, told The Times “I’m pretty worried”, explaining that if any of his 400 pigs were not treated with the medicine at 5 weeks old and became sick, they may have to be slaughtered.
Similar fears were echoed by Dr Karen Emerson of the Emerson Aminakl Hospital in Mississippi, who said: “If I have another flock of chickens with leg mites, I’m not going to be able to help them. And then I don’t know what we’re going to do.”
And as those working with aninmals fear a shortage, poison control centers in the US have reported an increase in people contacting them after taking ivermectin. According to the FDA, the drug is not authorised by them “for preventing or treating Covid-19 in humans or animals”, despite the fact that it is “approved for human use to treat infections caused by some parasitic worms and head lice and skin conditions like rosacea”.
However the human and animal versions of the drug are not the same, while taking a large amount of ivermectin – even that intended for humans – can be fatal.
Join our new commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies