Feed Stores: Livestock Ivermectin Flying Off Shelves for Unapproved Human Use

By Nanette Holt
Nanette Holt
Nanette Holt
Nanette covers a wide range of issues, mostly in Georgia and her home state of Florida. She started as a journalist in a competitive, daily-newspaper market, and later launched a community newspaper in a geographic area ignored by other media. She spent many years writing and editing for a variety of national and international magazines, and has been hired to coach best-selling authors for book publishers. When she’s not chasing news, Nanette enjoys cattle ranch life with her husband, three children, and far too many horses, goats, cats, and dogs.
January 29, 2022 Updated: January 30, 2022

Feed stores around the country are discouraging shoppers from buying ivermectin formulated for livestock for use in treating or preventing COVID-19 in humans.

But despite their warnings, they are finding it hard to keep animal ivermectin in stock, workers at retailers specializing in animal products told The Epoch Times.

Ivermectin formulated for humans seems to be increasingly difficult to obtain. On social media, there are flurries of requests for advice about how and where to find a doctor willing to prescribe it and pharmacies willing to fill those prescriptions.

As more people turn to feed stores to obtain ivermectin, some retailers have resorted to asking shoppers to show pictures of themselves with their animals as evidence they need ivermectin for use with livestock.

The struggle stems from the fact that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved the use of ivermectin as a treatment for COVID-19. An FDA webpage warning against using ivermectin also affirms that clinical trials investigating it as a COVID-19 treatment are ongoing.

Ivermectin, formulated in small white tablets for human use, is readily available in some countries as an over-the-counter medicine. It’s been used for about 40 years to treat humans infected with parasites and viruses. Studies about the safety and efficacy of using ivermectin in the treatment for COVID-19 have led to all or part of 22 countries approving its use to treat COVID-19.

Epoch Times Photo
Ivermectin packaged for human use. (Natasha Holt/The Epoch Times)

Some independent doctors with their own practices prescribe ivermectin for COVID-19 prevention and treatment. Prescribing all kinds of drugs for what’s known as “off-label” use is common. Online lists show doctors open to working with patients over the phone hoping to obtain ivermectin. Many of those provide well-documented testimony of how their patients have overcome serious cases of COVID-19 by taking ivermectin and other drugs listed in protocols developed by the Front Line COVID-19 Critical Care Alliance (FLCCC). Those treatment methods have been touted at medical freedom rallies around the country by doctors, nurses, and recovered patients.

Ivermectin formulated for humans could become easier to obtain soon. 

In New Hampshire, lawmakers now are considering legislation that would make the state the first in the United States to make ivermectin available as an over-the-counter medicine, and sanction it as a protected treatment for COVID-19.

Kansas lawmakers also are discussing proposals to allow off-label use of ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine, FOX4 in Kansas City reported on Jan. 26. Senate Bill 308 would mandate doctors give those prescriptions if a patient asks for them in the treatment of COVID-19. Senate Bill 381 would require pharmacists to fill those prescriptions.

Bills in both states drew testimony from health professionals opposing the legislation. Similar bills in at least three other states have failed.

Most hospitals staunchly refuse to consider any COVID-19 treatment not part of guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health. 

Over the past year, hospitals and families of patients have faced off in court over the use of ivermectin. Some families have prevailed in persuading courts to order hospitals to allow the treatment, and their loved ones have recovered.

In other cases, judges sided with hospitals and ruled they didn’t have to try the medications requested by the family. The Epoch Times closely followed the cases of Daniel Pisano and Stephen Judge, who died after their families’ fights for alternative treatments for COVID-19 failed.

It’s a situation that has repeated across the country to the outrage of many independent doctors, who insist ivermectin and the FLCCC protocols work, even in serious cases of COVID-19. Emails reflecting the sentiment have poured into The Epoch Times.

One of the most outspoken doctors has been Elizabeth Lee Vliet, M.D., of the Tucson, Arizona-based Truth for Health Foundation. She is co-author of “Guide to COVID Early Treatment: Options to Stay Out of Hospital and Save Your Life” with Peter McCullough, M.D. McCullough is well known as an advocate for using ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine in the treatment of the illness.

In November, the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS) published a paper co-authored by Vliet. The AAPS is a 79-year-old non-partisan professional association of physicians in all types of practices and specialties across the country.

In the paper, Vliet and attorney Ali Shultz wrote, “The CARES Act provides incentives for hospitals to use treatments dictated solely by the federal government under the auspices of the NIH [National Institutes of Health]. These ‘bounties’ must be paid back if not ‘earned’ by making the COVID-19 diagnosis and following the COVID-19 protocol.”

“American patients with COVID-19 become virtual prisoners” once admitted to the hospital, Vliet and Shultz wrote. Standards of care are lowered and family visitation is restricted, making it difficult for people to know how their loved ones are being treated, they say.

Epoch Times Photo
Dewey DeTrude’s wife hired an attorney to help her get him out of the intensive care unit at Mayo Clinic Florida, so he could be treated at home with ivermectin. After declining for 46 days, he was released, and made full recovery at home under the care of Eduardo Balbona, M.D. (Courtesy of the DeTrude Family)

“The combination that enables this tragic and avoidable loss of hundreds of thousands of lives includes (1) The CARES Act, which provides hospitals with bonus incentive payments for all things related to COVID-19 (testing, diagnosing, admitting to hospital, use of remdesivir and ventilators, reporting COVID-19 deaths, and vaccinations) and (2) waivers of customary and long-standing patient rights by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS),” they wrote.

The Epoch Times has requested comment repeatedly from the CMS media team, and has filed a FOIA request for details about payments to hospitals for COVID-19 care. The information has not been provided.

The 335-page CARES Act doesn’t reveal a clear picture of the payments hospitals receive and the stipulations tied to those payments.

“We now see government-dictated medical care at its worst in our history since the federal government mandated these ineffective and dangerous treatments for COVID-19, and then created financial incentives for hospitals and doctors to use only those ‘approved’ (and paid for) approaches,” Vliet and Shultz wrote.

“Our formerly trusted medical community of hospitals and hospital-employed medical staff have effectively become ‘bounty hunters’ for your life,” they wrote. “Patients need to now take unprecedented steps to avoid going into the hospital for COVID-19.”

Independent internist Eduardo Balbona, M.D., of Jacksonville, Florida, is one of those doctors using ivermectin and the FLCCC protocols to help patients recover. He prescribed the regimen for Dee Benson, 72, after a test in July showed she was, indeed, suffering the effects of the virus.

“In two days, I was feeling much better,” Benson said. “In the meantime, my friend comes down with it. And next thing I know, I’m taking his vitals and his oxygen level is just plummeting.”

Balbona suggested taking him to a nearby hospital. There, her friend, David Nussbaum, 77, tested positive for COVID-19 and was admitted. He continued to decline, she said, and she was especially worried because he’d had quadruple-bypass surgery only about a year and a half earlier.

Epoch Times Photo
Friends Dee Benson and David Nussbaum of Jacksonville believe ivermectin was the key to their recoveries from COVID-19. (Courtesy of Dee Benson)

On the fourth day, the hospital called for an Uber driver to return him to the front door of the building where they both live. The hospital staff told Benson the facility was just too crowded to keep him, she said.

Nussbaum’s “oxygen level was plummeting” into the 80s when she checked with a pulse oximeter, she said. She called Balbona for help, and he prescribed his typical regimen, based on the FLCCC protocol.

In a few days, Nussbaum made a turn for the better. Now, six months later, he’s back to riding his bike 25 miles per week.

“I recovered beautifully,” Nussbaum says.

Both Benson and Nussbaum believe ivermectin was the key to their recoveries.

Since then, Benson, a former journalist, has done some research, and she’s flabbergasted that ivermectin isn’t more widely accepted as a treatment for COVID-19. The only reason that makes sense to her is that the drug is so inexpensive.

“It’s a safe drug!” she said. “I’ve got to tell you, I’m so disappointed in the big pharmaceuticals” companies.

The patent for ivermectin has expired, making it a less-profitable drug for companies to produce and sell. She supposes that’s why there’s such an aggressive campaign to keep people from using it.

The Epoch Times spoke to dozens of people who have used ivermectin obtained from online medical services willing to prescribe the drug for treatment or prevention of COVID-19. None reported having any side effects, even those who admitted to using ivermectin formulated for animals.

“It’s actually super safe,” Dr. Balbona said. “It won’t kill anyone, despite what they say.”

The drug could cause stomach upset, if too much is taken, he said. And that’s easy to do, when the formulation is for large animals.

“At ten times the recommended dose, it’s still safe,” he said.

Marilyn Jones is a 57-year-old wife and mother in Tennessee, who’s shared how to use ivermectin packaged as a horse dewormer to treat COVID-19 with at least 40 of her family and friends. She asked for her name to be changed out of fear she could be charged with a crime.

Growing up, she traveled the world with her family. They took hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin to prevent diseases and parasites in Africa.

So at the beginning of the pandemic, when she heard ivermectin could be an effective treatment for COVID-19, she researched the drug. The creator won a Nobel Prize for it in 2015 after decades of its successful use, she learned, and it could be used in humans to treat scabies, lice, and other parasites.

“And it’s an amazing antiviral!” Jones said.

That made sense to her. One of her friends, a prominent orthopedic surgeon, had told her of how he and his family were taking ivermectin horse dewormer gel, as a prophylactic against COVID-19.

Soon, her family was using it, too, and they were helping friends who became ill with the virus.

“Our house is called The Hiding Place,” she said. “When the anti-vax kids from the [nearby] college got sick, instead of getting kicked off campus and going home, they would come to our house.”

Keeping her medicine cabinet stocked isn’t as easy as it used to be.

She often has to go to several feed stores to get enough ivermectin for people who are sick. Sometimes, she has to make up stories to be able to purchase it, acting confused about the name of the product she wants, and claiming she’s picking it up for an elderly rancher who can’t make the trip.

Epoch Times Photo
Ivermectin pastes, formulated for deworming horses, are arranged on shelves behind warnings at Tractor Supply Company in Gainesville, Fla., on Jan. 25, 2022. (Nanette Holt/The Epoch Times)

One store worker laughed, as she showed Jones to the livestock veterinary aisle, and handed her the tubes of horse dewormer.

“She said, ‘Oh hon, would you believe people are eating this?’” Jones recalled with a chuckle.

One man came to her asking for help, saying his wife in her late 50s was in the hospital with severe COVID-19, and was about to go on a ventilator, she said. She told him how to give his wife the right amount of gel from a tube of ivermectin formulated for horses. The woman ate the gel, quickly improved enough to leave the hospital, and recovered at home, she said.

Another time, a young family member called Jones for help. The girl’s friend, a student from Taiwan, had a high fever. She’d been very sick for four days, and her heart was racing. Jones grabbed her ivermectin stash and headed there.

At the college dorm, Jones said, she spoke by video chat with the girl’s mother, who begged her to give her daughter ivermectin.

“This is what we’re doing in Taiwan,” the mother pleaded tearfully, Jones said. “We were praying and praying, and looking at flights to bring her ivermectin.”

Jones gave the girl the medicine. The next day, the girl called, Jones said, and reported, “I feel so good. I don’t have a fever, at all. I’m so excited. I want to go run!”

Lynn Smith, a 55-year-old licensed nurse practitioner in southwest Florida, also tells friends and family how to avoid COVID-19 or treat the illness with ivermectin. She prefers using injectable ivermectin formulated for use in cattle, and dosed by weight. Her name also has been changed.

Epoch Times Photo
Florida veterinary student Rebecca Mann injects one of her cows with ivermectin as a routine deworming treatment on Jan. 25. (Courtesy of Linda Mann)

Smith always keeps the product on hand for deworming her animals. But when the drug was first mentioned as a possible treatment for COVID-19, she, too, studied the emerging research and felt it was worth a try.

Whenever she’s felt ill during the pandemic, she’s squirted some down the back of her throat.

A veterinarian friend treats himself by mixing his dose into orange juice, she said.

When she, her husband, and her teen daughter became ill with COVID-19, she treated all of them orally with the injectable formulation. All three recovered quickly, she said.  They have not been vaccinated for COVID-19.

The Epoch Times spoke with more than a dozen people who admitted to using livestock ivermectin successfully to treat COVID-19. They were afraid to use their names for fear of ridicule or even arrest, they said.

Smith is angry. She feels ivermectin has been canceled as a potential treatment because former President Donald Trump suggested early in the pandemic that it was a drug worth exploring.

If the virus continues to pose a threat, she’ll consider getting vaccinated. But not now. She has plenty of ivermectin that has worked well to keep her and her family safe.

“I’m not an anti-vaxxer,” Smith said. “I am pro-choice [about the vaccine]. But I think it should be everybody’s choice.”

Nanette Holt
Nanette covers a wide range of issues, mostly in Georgia and her home state of Florida. She started as a journalist in a competitive, daily-newspaper market, and later launched a community newspaper in a geographic area ignored by other media. She spent many years writing and editing for a variety of national and international magazines, and has been hired to coach best-selling authors for book publishers. When she’s not chasing news, Nanette enjoys cattle ranch life with her husband, three children, and far too many horses, goats, cats, and dogs.