Medsafe warns people against using 'horse medicine' to ward off COVID-19

Medsafe is warning people from using a 'horse medicine' to ward off COVID-19. 

It comes as a Newshub investigation has found Kiwis are using the treatment to do just that.

Doctors say there is no evidence Ivermectin works, and that using it is dangerous.

It's a medicine meant for horses, but its popularity among humans is growing as the drug is being touted as a treatment to ward off COVID-19.

"I get daily representations from people about Ivermectin," Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield says.

West Auckland retailer Horselands says it too has been taking lots of calls about it.

"She made a comment about how much would I dispense for 80 kilos and I said that seemed like a very small pony, which she ignored," an employee for Horselands says.

There is no clear evidence Ivermectin works in stopping COVID-19 or that it helps people recover.

Scientists say there isn't enough proof to show it works in humans while studies have so far shown small or low-quality results.

Ivermectin has a human version too, which is used to treat skin conditions.

The animal version is different. Ivermectin is usually mixed in with other substances to create the final product, which often then trades under a different brand name.

"I've reached the stage where I don't give a damn about what people [think]," Dave Witherow says. 

Witherow uses Ivermectin - both the human and animal versions - in low doses and says he has read articles where doctors overseas advocate for its use.

"I'm quite aware of a few friends and acquaintances in New Zealand that are taking the veterinary form," Witherow says. 

Many won't agree with him - but he's far from alone. Across Facebook and Reddit, unproven claims of benefits to humans have spread like wildfire.

It's similar to Hydroxychloroquine, in that it's another unproven treatment for COVID-19, being promoted online.

Newshub has spoken to another well-known store that sells horse-related products.

They've told Newshub that sales for Ivermectin-based treatments have increased significantly since this time last year.

Our health officials are warning anyone against using any dose that hasn't been medically prescribed.

Medsafe says it can cause low blood pressure, worsening asthma, and autoimmune disorders.

"There are no studies to show that it's of any benefit and if it's not used under supervision, and appropriately, it could be harmful," Dr Bloomfield says

It's a message Australian doctors are pushing too. On Wednesday night, a patient was admitted to hospital in Sydney after using Ivermectin.

The warning about Ivermectin in the age of misinformation is coming loud and clear from across the Tasman.

Watch full story above.