Why The FDA's Recent Tweet About A Veterinary Drug Has The Internet In Stitches

If we didn't know what it would take to push a federal agency to lose its cool over social media, we might have finally found out what the trigger would be. In an uncharacteristically snarky tweet, the Food and Drug Administration, which is responsible for regulating both human and veterinary medicines and medical supplies took to Twitter to share an explanation involving why a head lice cure called ivermectin should not be used to treat COVID-19. Their explanation: "You are not a horse. You are not a cow. Seriously, y'all. Stop it." 

The FDA pulled no punches in its explanation of what ivermectin was, and what it wasn't either. In a separate article, the federal agency warned that the drug was not FDA-approved, neither in treating nor in preventing COVID-19. It clarified that ivermectin was only cleared for use in treating parasitical worms, head lice, and skin conditions. The agency also warned that if a user had a prescription for the now controversial drug, that the medication needed to be used as prescribed. As an added precaution, the FDA saw it fit to warn that ivermectin for animals was not the same as the drug cleared for human use.

Mississippi has seen a spike in poison cases involving ivermectin for livestock use

Giggle-inducing though the Tweet might be, the FDA had a sombre reason for their lighthearted tweet. Late last week, the Mississippi State Department of Health issued a circular saying that its Poison Control Center had received a growing number of calls from people who have taken ivermectin either to prevent or treat COVID-19; 70 percent of those calls were related to ingesting ivermectin meant for animal consumption. The agency warned that veterinary drugs "are highly concentrated for large animals and can be highly toxic in humans" and it also listed symptoms of ivermectin poisoning as including rashes, nausea, vomiting, and stomach pains.

"There are potential toxicities. So it's something, you know, as you know, I think some people are trying to use it as a preventative, which I think is really kind of crazy. So please don't do that," the state's health officer, Dr. Thomas Dobbs says. He adds: "...please work with your doctor. This is medical treatment. You wouldn't get your chemotherapy at a feed store. I mean, you wouldn't want to treat your pneumonia with your animal's medication" (via Mississippi Free Press).

Twitter had a field day over the FDA's snarky tweet

While we can only think that the FDA's tweet was cocktail created by exasperation mixed in with a bit of good humor over attempts to find bogus cures instead of choosing to vaccinate in the first place, there were social media users who didn't see it that way, and they were not amused. This social media user chided the FDA, saying: "This is an incredibly unprofessional tweet. It's no wonder people are skeptical of the Federal government. It's not cute or funny, it's childish." 

But others were saddened by the reason the tweet was written to begin with. Another social media user said: "Amazing that Americans don't trust vaccines but have no trouble ingesting veterinary drugs. How did it come to this in terms of ignorance of science and medicine among large segments of the U.S. populace? Wow, wow, wow!" 

"We have three highly effective and safe vaccines and at least two treatments and these people want to take what? That they heard of from where? This last two years has been nothing but a Darwin Test," a third user posted as he shared a facepalm emoji.

A fourth pointed out: "A little note to those reading this FDA tweet: When an argument as stupid and false becomes sufficient for you, rejoice: it was tailor-made for your intelligence, and you should follow its advice."