The ‘Safe Supply’ Movement Aims to Curb Drug Deaths Linked to the Opioid Crisis

On a morning Zoom call, a group of Canadian mothers give their full attention to a young man from the Drug User Liberation Front. At 26, Jeremy Kalicum is the age some of their kids would be if they had not died of accidental overdoses. Kalicum’s tone is urgent as he walks the moms through…

The ‘Safe Supply’ Movement Aims to Curb Drug Deaths Linked to the Opioid Crisis
Drug User Liberation Front. At 26, Jeremy Kalicum is the age some of their kids would be if they had not died of accidental overdoses.

“We’re just sick of it. We’re sick of our friends dying.”Kalicum’s tone is urgent as he walks the moms through a PowerPoint presentation explaining why the Liberation Front, known as DULF, wants to protest on International Overdose Awareness Day and hand out illicit drugs. These wouldn’t be the kind that killed their sons and daughters, he assures them; they’d be “safe supply” drugs that have been tested to ensure they’re not laced with lethal fentanyl. “Anyone who wants to find drugs can find drugs,” says Kalicum, reasoning that the best way to save lives is to make sure users are given the safest possible drugs. “The drugs that they’re finding are of unknown quality and unknown potency.”
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Then, after 15 minutes of slides and stats, Kalicum and DULF co founder Eris Nyx makes their pitch: they want these mothers, from a group called Moms Stop the Harm, to join them and other activists in their distribution mission, an admittedly risky protest that could land them in jail.

It’s a tough sell, but it’s critical to saving lives, say Kalicum and supporters of the “safe supply” effort.

“I’m not a criminal, and obviously, Moms Stop the Harm aren’t criminals,” Kalicum says. “We’re just sick of it. We’re sick of our friends dying.”

Everyone on the call can relate. Each has lost someone to the opioid crisis, which has soared in North America during the pandemic, especially in Canada. In the U.S., deaths rose nearly 30 percent in 2020 to a record 93,000. In Canada, deaths soared 89% over the previous year.

Jackie DivesMoms Stop The Harm members attend a demonstration at which the Drug User Liberation Front distributed meth, heroin, and cocaine that had been tested for fentanyl as part of the “safe supply” movement, on April 14, 2021.

Behind the numbers lies a cruel irony that every parent listening to Kalicum understands, and that drives the “safe supply” movement: Opioids were perfectly legal when their children were becoming addicted to them, promoted by pharmaceutical giants and doled out by physicians who enabled the crisis by accepting drug companies’ claims they were safe.

When the reality became clear, and prescriptions became hard to come by, it was too late. Untold thousands of pain-addled patients had become hooked on what opioids provided, as had many young people who’d begun experimenting with the pills recreationally. They found relief on the streets in the form of heroin, then began dying from illicit drugs either laced with fentanyl or entirely replaced with the compound, which is 50 times more potent than heroin.

A Deadly Arc

That is the arc of the Opioid Crisis: From patient to criminal to, more and more often, early death.

The “safe supply” movement seeks to counter this deadly progression by ensuring the integrity of the dosages that users have been conditioned to crave while providing care that keeps them alive and could wean them off drugs. “It’s not who we are to stand passively by,” says Kalicum. “We’re gonna do something, and we’re willing to take on personal risks to do that. But we can look at ourselves in the mirror and know that we’re doing what’s right.”

The Drug User Liberation Front hands out free meth, heroin, and cocaine that has been tested for purity and labeled similarly to how a cigarette packages are labeled. April 14, 2021. Jackie Dives
Jackie DivesA member of the Drug User Liberation Front hands out illegal drugs that have been tested and determined to be free of fentanyl, then packaged and given warning labels similar to those on cigarette packs, at an event on April 14, 2021.

Even in Vancouver, a city with a progressive history on the issue of drugs, “doing what’s right” means butting up against an opposing force that still views drugs as a moral failing rather than a medical problem, and that opposes safe distributions. Slowly, though, DULF and the Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users, or VANDU, are drawing attention to their effort and, on this video call winning support. At least two of the moms listening to Kalicum volunteered to distribute drugs on International Overdose Day, Aug. 31, despite the risk of arrest.

“If we lose some members, that’s okay,” says Leslie McBain, a founding member of Moms Stop The Harm. Her son died in 2014 just as lawsuits against opioid maker Purdue Pharma were first ramping up, and many were still naive to the dangers of opioids. “He had an injury on a construction site when he was 23, and the doctor just prescribed loads and loads of oxycodone,” she says of her son. “And that was his demise.”

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In the past six years, McBain’s organization has grown to nearly 3,000 members across Canada. Their goal, she says, is to lessen the stigma of addiction and advocate for changes in drug policy in a way that “actually supports the lives of people who use drugs rather than punishes them.”

In 2003, North America’s first sanctioned, supervised safe injection site, Insite, opened in Vancouver after receiving a federal exemption to protect it from the country’s drug laws. Canada now has 37 such sites, with zero overdose deaths at these supervised locations.

In the U.S., cities with large communities of drug users like Boston, Seattle, San Francisco, and New York have tried to open safe injection sites, but none has done so legally. As a result, organizations working to help the most volatile drug users often operate in the shadows without official local or federal support.

Jeremy Kalicum, co-founder of The Drug User Liberation Front (DULF) works on a press release for an upcoming DULF demonstration at Black Lab, a music venue and artist collective run by his DULF co-organizer, Eris Nyx. Vancouver, B.C. June 13, 2021.
Jackie DivesJeremy Kalicum, a co-founder of The Drug User Liberation Front, at Black Lab, a music venue and artist collective in Vancouver, on June 13, 2021.

“History has shown that moving these initiatives forward often takes some form of civil disobedience from community groups.” 

Kalicum and Nyx are familiar with the pitfalls of trying to operate under the radar, having spent years on the front lines of the drug scourge. And as the pandemic’s effect on drug use has become clearer, with fentanyl showing up not just in heroin now but in cocaine and methamphetamine, the pair have become bolder in their efforts. They staged their first protest demanding a “safe supply” of drugs in 2020. In April 2021, they distributed “safe” heroin they tested for the first time in downtown Vancouver. Three months later, they distributed drugs in front of police department headquarters.

‘Maybe this is a good idea’

“History has shown that moving these initiatives forward often takes some form of civil disobedience from community groups,” says Kalicum. The first overdose prevention sites were set up illegally along with needle exchanges. “It took people giving needles out themselves before the government thought maybe this is a good idea,” he says.

The duo is a study in contrasts. Nyx, 30, is a witty, self-identified trans woman covered in tattoos, while Kalicum is more straight-laced, subdued, and serious. “I look like a criminal,” jokes Nyx. “Jeremy looks like he could be your best friend’s son.”

Eris Nyx, co-founder of The Drug User Liberation Front, poses for a photograph in her home in Vancouver, B.C. August 1, 2021. Jackie Dives.
Jackie DivesEris Nyx, co-founder of The Drug User Liberation Front, in her home in Vancouver, B.C. on Aug. 1, 2021.

“The thing about drugs is most people use them at least at some point.” 

But both bring a history of experience with drugs to their activism. Nyx is originally from the suburbs of Toronto. The organizing director of the Tenant Overdose Response Organizers and executive director of the Coalition of Peers Dismantling the Drug War; she says she’s used drugs since the age of 12 or 13, is estranged from her family for being queer and trans, and in turn experienced housing instability.

In 2019, after being laid off from the British Columbia Center for Disease Control, Nyx was hired to organize a conference on “safe supply.” She and Kalicum met in person for the first time at that conference after weeks of planning calls, bonded over their shared mission, and created DULF.

Kalicum was raised by a single mother on disability in the port city of Nanaimo, where he says his family was in “great need,” and he fell into drugs and petty crime at a young age. Eventually, a local charity put him through school in a suburb of Chicago until he moved back to Canada to complete his bachelor’s degree in chemistry and biology.

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His experience with that charity helped steer Kalicum into his current activism, which includes buying drugs on the dark web and testing them for evidence of fentanyl before they’re distributed as part of the “safe supply” movement. “That organization met people where they’re at and worked to improve their lives without any expectation of return,” he says. “And that’s what I strive to put forward into the world.”

Much of DULF’s work focuses on “harm reduction,” which historically involves providing clean needles to prevent the spread of infection and disease, along with antiseptics, condoms, and anything else that might help safeguard drug users. It’s been shown to improve health outcomes that often lead to recovery. Long-term studies in Vancouver have shown that drug users were more likely to enter a detox program and save taxpayers money.

In the early ‘90s, when Switzerland was dealing with a growing heroin epidemic, it began making methadone available. It launched a heroin prescription program for some users in an effort to curb overdose deaths, HIV infections, and public drug use. As these programs have grown, the rate of new heroin users has declined along with overdose deaths, HIV rates, and crime. Other countries, including the Netherlands, Denmark, Germany, the United Kingdom, and Canada, launched similar programs.

Jeremy Kalicum, co-founder of the Drug User Liberation Front, travels 1.5 hours by ferry each week to his home city of Nanaimo B.C., where with the help of his mentor Ann Livingston, he is setting up a community hub for people who use drugs. He is seen here sleeping on the ferry on the way home. May 29, 2021. Jackie Dives
Jackie DivesExhausted from work, Jeremy Kalicum naps on the ferry taking him from Vancouver to his hometown, Nanaimo, on May 29, 2021.

Kalicum’s return to Nainaimo in 2016 coincided with the declaration of the opioid crisis as a public health emergency. He was shocked by the number of deaths in his home city and got in touch with a city councilor advocating for supervised drug consumption sites. Kalicum worked to set one up in Nanaimo, on Vancouver Island, and remembers, “that’s when I learned the value of direct action.”

After moving across the strait to Vancouver in 2019, he became involved with the, an agency that advocates on behalf of drug users, and fell under the mentorship of Ann Livingston, considered a pioneer in harm reduction. Kalicum began to see it as his “moral imperative” to work around the legal system to save lives. Around that time, he also learned of “compassion clubs,” first used by terminally ill people to access cannabis for pain before it was legal. These clubs now provide drug users with a safe supply of drugs and with spaces in which people can supervise one another while using them.

Ann Livingston is a community activist in Vancouver, B.C. who has spent decades encouraging people who use drugs to organize themselves in order to have input on the policy that directly impacts their lives. After successfully co-founding the Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users, she has most recently been helping people who use drugs set up a community hub in Nanaimo, a city that is a 1.5 hour ferry from Vancouver. She is seen here feeling the sun on her face. May 29, 2021. Jackie Dives
Jackie DivesAnn Livingston on the ferry between Vancouver and Nanaimo, on May 29, 2021. “It’s not like we woke up one day and said, oh, let’s do this,” says Livingston, who began working in Vancouver in the early ’90s as an advocate for drug users at a time when HIV/AIDS prevention was fueling a rise in activism. “It’s been an ongoing ramping up of actions, you know, to get to the point where we’re at.” Livingston was helping set up a hub in Nanaimo for drug users to become more involved in the policies that affect their lives.

His arrival in Vancouver, as drug deaths were soaring, shook Kalicum. “Before I came to Vancouver, I’d never seen a dead body before,” he says. “And that summer, I’d seen several.” Currently almost six people die each day in British Columbia, according to the B.C. Coroners Service. Nyx says she responds to at least an overdose a week. “That f–ks a person up and creates an incredible amount of PTSD,” she says.

Nyx and Kalicum know that they can’t wipe out drug use, but neither do they see that as something that should be done. “The thing about drugs is most people use them at least at some point,” Nyx says, citing coffee, cigarettes, alcohol, marijuana and prescription meds. Most people, she notes, use these substances and are not out of control or in what is often called “chaotic” use. “I don’t want to die. I’m a perfectly functional member of society, and most people who use drugs are,” she says.

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What would make more sense than focusing on the minority of out-of-control, self-destructive addicts, Nyx argues, is to regulate the drug market in a way that ensures all users have the safest options possible.

Outlawing alcohol provides an instructive example. The Prohibition Era lasted only from 1920-23, but in that time the crime of drinking was driven underground into speakeasies and basements. Booze was mixed in buckets and bathtubs, and there were no labels on bottles. People had no idea what proof the liquor they were drinking was, and that was dangerous.

Today’s illegal drug markets operate in the same way. No one has any idea what they’re buying on the street in unmarked bags. “Regulation will save people’s lives,” Nyx says.

With that in mind, DULF has set out to do with street drugs what’s now common for alcohol and cigarette manufacturers: test ingredients and put clear labels on everything. The “DULF Fulfillment Center and Compassion Club model” acts as a market and consumer protection agency where street drugs are tested and distributed in packaging that states the drugs’ contents.

Jeremy Kalicum (left) and Eris Nyx (right) purchase meth, cocain, and heroin from the dark web using Bitcoin and Monero. Vancouver, B.C. June 13, 2021. Jackie Dives
Jackie DivesJeremy Kalicum (left) and Eris Nyx purchase drugs from the dark web in Vancouver, on June 13, 2021.

Nyx, designs the labels, and together they promote the mission and crowdsource money to buy illegal drugs, then test them and distribute them at protests to people who are part of already existing drug-user groups. “The free drugs go to the people in the most need,” says Nyx.

The Dark Web

Kalicum describes the system of buying drugs on the dark web, which is remarkably similar to buying just about anything else. “There are sites which are kind of analogous to eBay,” he says, where people can buy, and people can leave reviews for vendors.

“These sites will hold your money in escrow until you get your product. When you get it, you test it. You can either release the funds or create a dispute,” he says. In the case of a dispute, the website appoints a mediator to settle things.

DULF has received fentanyl instead of heroin and has been refunded thousands of dollars after creating a dispute. Still, there are unknowns, which has been one of the major criticisms of DULF: The seller might be a criminal organization, for instance. But Kalicum says the current state of drug legislation has left people serious about quality control no choice. “It’s not what we want to do,” says Kalicum, “but we’re forced to leverage the resources that we have access to, and that’s the dark web.”

They pay for the drugs with a private cryptocurrency called Monero that claims to be untraceable.

Kalicum was one of the first people hired to begin testing street drugs while working as a technician with the British Columbia Center on Substance Use, where he learned a technology called FTIR spectroscopy. The technology uses infrared light to tell him what’s in a substance and in what quantity. His goal eventually is to be able to use mass spectrometry, which shows a more refined level of detail.

Nyx keeps track of the data on the drugs they distribute. Each person receiving a dose is asked to answer three simple questions on a form: did you use the drugs yourself, did the person using the drugs overdose, and will you score the drugs on a scale of 1 to 5? So far, Nyx says, of the 907 forms filled out, none of the users has overdosed. In this early phase, they don’t think that data can be leveraged in any official capacity, but Kalicum says, “it might act as a kind of carrot for researchers to do something substantial.”

Kalicum would like to see heroin and other drugs provided by the government or a regulated supplier, the way methadone is now, and not by the illicit markets. “You’d be taking money out of the hands of organized crime,” says Kalicum. “People can get their drugs there, use them, and it acts as a portal to health and social services.”

In May 2021, Vancouver offered up its own solution to the drug issue: the Vancouver Model, which would decriminalize simple possession of all drugs up to a specific amount. It recognizes substance use and the overdose crisis as a public health issue, not a criminal justice issue. Even so, DULF and many activists feel the proposal fails to address the sourcing of toxic drugs as the main cause of fatalities and that the amounts individuals would be permitted to possess don’t conform to actual patterns of substance use.

Vancouver’s Police Inspector, Phil Heard, who took a leading role in proposing the plan, acknowledges the criticism but says it’s up to scientists, not cops, to study its impacts, assuming the idea is implemented.

In the meantime, DULF is pushing hard to get permission to implement its own plan. In August, it submitted a 19-page letter to Canadian health officials asking for an exemption to practice its “safe supply” model. “We are saying this is a health emergency,” says Kalicum. DULF isn’t alone in what some consider radical approaches to the drug issue. As the pandemic raged through Canada in 2020, Canadian Health Minister Patty Hajdu, seeing the impact on drug users, raised the idea of injectable pharmaceutical-grade heroin, among other possible solutions.

 

Deb Bailey (middle), co-founder of Moms Stop The Harm, holds boxes of drugs for distribution. She comforts Jeremy Kalicum, co-founder of the Drug User Liberation Front during his speach at a press conference on International Overdose Awareness Day in front of Health Minister Adrian Dix's office in Vancouver, B.C. August 31, 2021. Jackie Dives
Jackie DivesDeb Bailey (center), a co-founder of Moms Stop The Harm, lends a comforting hand to Jeremy Kalicum of the Drug User Liberation Front during a news conference on International Overdose Awareness Day in front of Health Minister Adrian Dix’s office in Vancouver on Aug. 31, 2021.

 

Signs of progress

In August, Nyx and Kalicum presented their model to Inspector Heard and Staff Sergeant Jason Chan. The Aug. 31 protest marking International Overdose Awareness Day went smoothly, and none of the moms who took part was arrested. DULF has also received a “letter of support” for its testing and safe supply plan from Vancouver Coastal Health, a regional health authority with a budget of more than $3 billion dollars. Several Canadian policy experts, have also signed on, including many from the B.C. Centre on Substance Use and the Canadian Drug Policy Coalition.

And on Oct. 7, the Vancouver City Council voted to support DULF’s plan, though it only passed after an amendment to ensure that drugs would be purchased through legal means. That would require activist groups to work with companies like Fair Price Pharma to supply, test, and package legally sourced drugs before dispensing them to members of a compassion club.

Kalicum and Nyx addressed the meeting and urged officials to act quickly. then sort out the details of where to find drugs. “What we’re saying is a temporary stopgap. But stop the deaths first, then figure everything out after,” Nyx said.

Wooden feathers that have the names of people who have died from toxic drug supply hang from a fence around Oppenheimer Park in Vancouver, B.C. August 31, 2021. Jackie Dives
Jackie DivesWooden feathers hanging from a fence in Oppenheimer Park in Vancouver memorialize victims of drug overdose deaths, on International Overdose Awareness Day on Aug. 31, 2021.

Everyone witnessing the overdose epidemic agrees that it is only getting worse. Heard, the police inspector says 2020 was a “record year,” but “2021, it’s looking to be even more deadly.” Sure enough, the day after the City Council hearing, Nyx witnessed yet another drug death, this time of an 18-year-old.

Even with growing support, she and Kalicum are exhausted. They’ll need to apply for grants to fund their effort. “We have a colossal amount of work to do,” she says wearily. “People are constantly dying, and there is no end in sight.”

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Secret Documents Reveal FDA’s Attack on Ivermectin

In early September 2021, Oklahoma’s KFOR news ran a falsified story about emergency rooms being overrun with patients who had overdosed on horse ivermectin.1 Other mainstream media followed suit — all incorrectly referring to ivermectin as a dangerous veterinary drug. In the real world, ivermectin is a human drug that has been safely used by 3.7 billion people since the early 1990s.2 In 2016, three scientists received the Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine for their discovery of ivermectin against parasitic infections in humans.3 It’s also on the World Health Organization’s list of essential medicines.4 There’s absolutely no reason whatsoever to disparage ivermectin as a “horse dewormer” that only a loony person would consider taking. Yet that’s what mainstream media have done, virtually without exception. When comedian and podcast host Joe Rogan revealed5 he’d treated his bout of COVID-19 with ivermectin and other remedies — fully recovering within three days — NPR reported Rogan had taken “ivermectin, a deworming veterinary drug that is formulated for use in cows and horses,” adding that “the Food and Drug Administration is urging people to stop ingesting” the medication, saying animal doses of the drug can cause nausea, vomiting and in some cases severe hepatitis.6 Sanjay Gupta Admits CNN Lied CNN, among many others, also reported on Rogan’s use of “horse dewormer.” In mid-October 2021, Rogan interviewed CNN medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta, grilling him on why CNN would outright lie about his use of ivermectin. “It’s a lie on a news network,” Rogan said, “and it’s a lie that they’re conscious of. It’s not a mistake. They’re unfavorably framing it as a veterinary medicine … Don’t you think a lie like that is dangerous … when they know they’re lying? They know I took medicine [for humans] … Dude, they lied. They said I was taking horse dewormer. It was prescribed to me by a doctor, along with a bunch of other medications.” Gupta finally relents and agrees that ivermectin should not be called horse dewormer. When asked, “Does it bother you that the news network you work for out and out lied about me taking horse dewormer?” Gupta replied, “They shouldn’t have said that.” When asked why they would lie about such an important medical issue, Gupta replied “I don’t know.” Gupta also admits he never asked why they did it, even though he’s their top medical correspondent. FDA Attacks Ivermectin While CNN and mainstream media are certainly at fault for spreading disinformation here, they got the idea from a supposedly reputable source — the FDA. In an August 21, 2021, tweet,7 the FDA linked to an agency article warning against the use of ivermectin, saying “You are not a horse. You are not a cow. Seriously, y’all. Stop it.” This blatantly misleading post seeded the lie that then spread across mainstream media. In an article posted on RESCUE with Michael Capuzzo substack, two independent investigative health journalists, Mary Beth Pfeiffer and Linda Bonvie, detail how the FDA’s anti-ivermectin campaign began:8 “Within two days, 23.7 million people had seen that Pulitzer-worthy bit of Twitter talk. Hundreds of thousands more got the message on Facebook, LinkedIn, and from the Today Show’s 3 million-follower Instagram account. ‘That was great!’ declared FDA Acting Commissioner Janet Woodcock in an email to her media team. ‘Even I saw it!’ For the FDA, the ‘not-a-horse’ tweet was ‘a unique viral moment,’ a senior FDA official wrote to Woodcock, ‘in a time of incredible misinformation’ … When CNN retweeted ‘not-a-horse,’ FDA was gleeful. ‘The numbers are racking up and I laughed out loud,’ wrote FDA Associate Commissioner Erica Jefferson in one email … There was one problem, however. The tweet was a direct outgrowth of wrong data — call it misinformation — put out the day before by the Mississippi health department. The FDA did not vet the data, according to our review of emails obtained under the Freedom of Information Act and questions to FDA officials. Instead, it saw Mississippi, as one email said, as ‘an opportunity to remind the public of our own warnings for ivermectin.’” The now infamous tweet was born out of a single sentence in a Mississippi poison control health alert, which stated that “At least 70% of the recent calls have been related to ingestion of livestock or animal formulations of ivermectin purchased at livestock supply centers.” The problem? That wasn’t accurate either. Much Ado About Nothing As it turns out, the real percentage of recent calls to poison control related to veterinary ivermectin was 2%, not 70%. In an October 5, 2021, correction, the Mississippi health department clarified that it wasn’t 70% of all poison control calls that involved veterinary ivermectin, it was 70% of all ivermectin-related calls.9 In absolute numbers, there were six such calls, and four of those calls actually related to livestock accidentally r

Secret Documents Reveal FDA’s Attack on Ivermectin

In early September 2021, Oklahoma’s KFOR news ran a falsified story about emergency rooms being overrun with patients who had overdosed on horse ivermectin.1 Other mainstream media followed suit — all incorrectly referring to ivermectin as a dangerous veterinary drug.

In the real world, ivermectin is a human drug that has been safely used by 3.7 billion people since the early 1990s.2 In 2016, three scientists received the Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine for their discovery of ivermectin against parasitic infections in humans.3 It’s also on the World Health Organization’s list of essential medicines.4

There’s absolutely no reason whatsoever to disparage ivermectin as a “horse dewormer” that only a loony person would consider taking. Yet that’s what mainstream media have done, virtually without exception.

When comedian and podcast host Joe Rogan revealed5 he’d treated his bout of COVID-19 with ivermectin and other remedies — fully recovering within three days — NPR reported Rogan had taken “ivermectin, a deworming veterinary drug that is formulated for use in cows and horses,” adding that “the Food and Drug Administration is urging people to stop ingesting” the medication, saying animal doses of the drug can cause nausea, vomiting and in some cases severe hepatitis.6

Sanjay Gupta Admits CNN Lied

CNN, among many others, also reported on Rogan’s use of “horse dewormer.” In mid-October 2021, Rogan interviewed CNN medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta, grilling him on why CNN would outright lie about his use of ivermectin.

“It’s a lie on a news network,” Rogan said, “and it’s a lie that they’re conscious of. It’s not a mistake. They’re unfavorably framing it as a veterinary medicine …

Don’t you think a lie like that is dangerous … when they know they’re lying? They know I took medicine [for humans] … Dude, they lied. They said I was taking horse dewormer. It was prescribed to me by a doctor, along with a bunch of other medications.”

Gupta finally relents and agrees that ivermectin should not be called horse dewormer. When asked, “Does it bother you that the news network you work for out and out lied about me taking horse dewormer?” Gupta replied, “They shouldn’t have said that.”

When asked why they would lie about such an important medical issue, Gupta replied “I don’t know.” Gupta also admits he never asked why they did it, even though he’s their top medical correspondent.

FDA Attacks Ivermectin

While CNN and mainstream media are certainly at fault for spreading disinformation here, they got the idea from a supposedly reputable source — the FDA. In an August 21, 2021, tweet,7 the FDA linked to an agency article warning against the use of ivermectin, saying “You are not a horse. You are not a cow. Seriously, y’all. Stop it.”

This blatantly misleading post seeded the lie that then spread across mainstream media. In an article posted on RESCUE with Michael Capuzzo substack, two independent investigative health journalists, Mary Beth Pfeiffer and Linda Bonvie, detail how the FDA’s anti-ivermectin campaign began:8

“Within two days, 23.7 million people had seen that Pulitzer-worthy bit of Twitter talk. Hundreds of thousands more got the message on Facebook, LinkedIn, and from the Today Show’s 3 million-follower Instagram account.

‘That was great!’ declared FDA Acting Commissioner Janet Woodcock in an email to her media team. ‘Even I saw it!’ For the FDA, the ‘not-a-horse’ tweet was ‘a unique viral moment,’ a senior FDA official wrote to Woodcock, ‘in a time of incredible misinformation’ …

When CNN retweeted ‘not-a-horse,’ FDA was gleeful. ‘The numbers are racking up and I laughed out loud,’ wrote FDA Associate Commissioner Erica Jefferson in one email … There was one problem, however. The tweet was a direct outgrowth of wrong data — call it misinformation — put out the day before by the Mississippi health department.

The FDA did not vet the data, according to our review of emails obtained under the Freedom of Information Act and questions to FDA officials. Instead, it saw Mississippi, as one email said, as ‘an opportunity to remind the public of our own warnings for ivermectin.’”

The now infamous tweet was born out of a single sentence in a Mississippi poison control health alert, which stated that “At least 70% of the recent calls have been related to ingestion of livestock or animal formulations of ivermectin purchased at livestock supply centers.” The problem? That wasn’t accurate either.

Much Ado About Nothing

As it turns out, the real percentage of recent calls to poison control related to veterinary ivermectin was 2%, not 70%. In an October 5, 2021, correction, the Mississippi health department clarified that it wasn’t 70% of all poison control calls that involved veterinary ivermectin, it was 70% of all ivermectin-related calls.9

In absolute numbers, there were six such calls, and four of those calls actually related to livestock accidentally receiving the drug. Investigation by Pfeiffer and Bonvie also revealed that between July 31 and August 22, 2021, 40%, 10 of 24 ivermectin-related calls to the Mississippi poison control center were mere requests for information, which is a common occurrence.

“Without question, people should not take drugs made for animals, given issues of dosing and medical oversight, to name just two. That much is clear,” Pfeiffer and Bonvie write.10

“But in hopping on the Mississippi bandwagon, the FDA … turned ivermectin, which doctors and health ministers in several countries say has saved many from covid-19, into a drug to be feared, human form or not.

This highly effective bait-and-switch began last March with a webpage, to which the FDA tweet linked, that conflates the two ivermectins. On one hand, the FDA tells of receiving ‘multiple reports of patients who have required medical attention’ after taking the animal product.

On the other, it describes the fate awaiting people who take large amounts of any ivermectin, ending a long list with ‘dizziness, ataxia, seizures, coma and even death.’

The medical literature,11 nonetheless, shows ivermectin to be an extremely safe medicine … Last March, a safety review12 of ivermectin by a renowned French toxicologist could not find a single accidental overdose death in the medical literature in more than 300 safety studies of the drug over decades.

The study was performed for MedinCell, a French pharmaceutical company … Since 1992, twenty deaths have been linked to inexpensive, off-patent ivermectin, according to a World Health Organization drug tracker called VigiAccess …

So how big was the surge that FDA described as ‘multiple’? Four, an agency spokesperson said just after the page went up. Three people were hospitalized, but it wasn’t clear if that was for COVID itself.

When pressed for details, FDA cited privacy issues, and said in an email, ‘Some of these cases were lost to follow up.’ This is how government gets away with some whoppers, and with the media’s help.”

Ivermectin Is Safe; Remdesivir, Not so Much

According to VigiAccess, the World Health Organization’s drug tracker, a total of 20 deaths have been linked to ivermectin since 1992.13 Compare that safety profile to remdesivir, the primary drug used by hospitals across the U.S. against COVID-19.

Since the spring of 2020, VigiAccess has received 7,491 adverse events in all attributed to remdesivir, including 560 deaths, 550 serious cardiac disorders and 475 acute kidney injuries.14

The question is why remdesivir is being used at all, with the World Health Organization recommending15 against it and a new Lancet study16 finding “no clinical benefit.” Could it be that Fauci is involved with the fraud? Pfeiffer and Bonvie write.17,18

“The other question is why ivermectin is not. The FDA tweet arrived just as ivermectin prescriptions were soaring, up twenty-four-fold in August from before the pandemic.

These were legal prescriptions written by doctors who, presumably, had read the studies, learned from experience, and decided for themselves. Indeed, 20 percent of prescriptions are written off-label,19 namely for other than an approved use.

The effort to vilify ivermectin broadly has helped curb the legal supply of a safe drug. That’s what drove people to livestock medicine in the first place.”

State AG Calls Out Medical Establishment for Misinformation

In better news, in early October 2021, the Nebraska Department of Health asked Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson to issue a legal opinion on the off-label use of ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine for COVID-19.

October 15, 2021, Peterson issued a legal opinion20,21 stating health care providers can legally prescribe these medications for off-label use for the treatment of COVID, provided they have informed consent from the patient.22 The only causes for disciplinary action are failure to obtain informed consent, deception and/or prescribing excessively high doses.

Peterson concluded that, based on the available evidence, hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin “might work for some people.”

He highlighted studies demonstrating the safety and benefits of these drugs against COVID-19, as well as the shocking scientific fraud that led to worldwide shunning of hydroxychloroquine, and the cherry-picking and exclusion of data in studies that are critical of ivermectin. He also pointed out how illogical it is to discourage early treatment.

"Allowing physicians to consider these early treatments will free them to evaluate additional tools that could save lives, keep patients out of the hospital, and provide relief for our already strained healthcare system," Peterson wrote.23,24

Peterson also called out the FDA and Dr. Anthony Fauci on their hypocrisy, detailing how the FDA and National Institutes of Health seeded confusion by issuing contradictory guidance. The NIH has taken a neutral position to ivermectin, which Peterson “clearly signaled that physicians should use their discretion in deciding whether to treat COVID-19 patients with ivermectin.”

NIH officials, however, have ignored the agency’s official position. At the end of August 2021, Fauci “went on CNN and announced that ‘there is no clinical evidence’ that ivermectin works for the prevention or treatment of COVID-19,’ and that ‘there is no evidence whatsoever’ that it works,” Peterson writes, adding:

“Yet this definitive claim directly contradicts the NIH’s recognition that ‘several randomized trials … published in peer-reviewed journals’ have reported data indicating that ivermectin is effective as a COVID-19 treatment.”

AG Blames FDA for Seeding Confusion

Peterson goes on to review the FDA’s behavior with respect to ivermectin:

“The FDA has similarly charted a course of confusion. In March 2021, the FDA posted a webpage entitled ‘Why You Should Not Use Ivermectin to Great or Prevent COVID-19.’

Although the FDA’s concern was stories of some people using the animal form of ivermectin or excessive doses of the human form, the title broadly condemned any use of ivermectin in connection with COVID-19.

Yet there was no basis for its sweeping condemnation. Indeed, the FDA itself acknowledged on that very webpage (and continued to do so until the page changed on September 3, 2021) that the agency had not even ‘reviewed data to support use of ivermectin in COVID-19 patients to treat or prevent COVID-19.’

But without reviewing the available data, which had long since been available and accumulating, it is unclear what basis the FDA had for denouncing ivermectin as a treatment or prophylaxis for COVID-19.”

Peterson also highlights the fact that while the FDA claims ivermectin “is not an antiviral (a drug for treating viruses),” on another FDA webpage they list a study in Antiviral Research that “identified ivermectin as a medicine ‘previously shown to have broad-spectrum antiviral activity.”

“It is telling that the FDA deleted the line about ivermectin not being ‘anti-viral’ when it amended the first webpage on September 3, 2021,” Peterson writes.

He also points out that while the FDA now claims off-label use of drugs “can be very dangerous,” and that this is why they don’t recommend ivermectin for COVID, doctors routinely use drugs off-label, and ivermectin has a well-established safety record.

So, “it is inconsistent for the FDA to imply that ivermectin is dangerous when used to treat COVID-19 while the agency continues to approve remdesivir despite its spottier safety record,” Peterson writes.

AG Puts Professional Associations Under the Microscope

Peterson also questioned the stance of professional associations such as The American Medical Association, American Pharmacists Association and American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, which in September 2021 issuing a joint statement25 opposing the use of ivermectin to prevent or treat COVID outside of clinical trials.

Their statement, Peterson points out, relied on the FDA’s and CDC’s “suspect positions,” and a statement by Merck, in which they opposed the use of the drug due to a “concerning lack of safety data in the majority of studies.”

“But Merck, of all sources, knows that ivermectin is exceedingly safe, so the absence of safety data in recent studies should not be concerning to the company,” Peterson writes, adding:

“Why would ivermectin’s original patent holder go out of its way to question this medicine by creating the impression that it might not be safe? There are at least two plausible reasons.

First, ivermectin is no longer under patent, so Merck does not profit from it anymore. That likely explains why Merck declined to ‘conduct clinical trials’ on ivermectin and COVID-19 when given the chance.

Second, Merck has a significant financial interest in the medical profession rejecting ivermectin as an early treatment for COVID-19. [T]he U.S. government has agreed to pay [Merck] about $1.2 billion for 1.7 million courses of its experimental COVID-19 treatment [molnupiravir], if it is proven to work in an ongoing large trial and authorized by U.S. regulators.

Thus, if low-cost ivermectin works better than, or even the same as molnupiravir, that could cost Merck billions of dollars.”

Another excellent article26 detailing the FDA’s questionable actions, and Merck’s incentives to disparage their old drug, ivermectin, was published by the American Institute for Economic Research.

“While we can all be happy that Merck has developed a new therapeutic that can keep us safe from the ravages of Covid-19, we should realize that the FDA’s rules give companies an incentive to focus on newer drugs while ignoring older ones,” David Henderson, a senior fellow with AIERS, writes.27

“Ivermectin may or may not be a miracle drug for Covid-19. The FDA doesn’t want us to learn the truth. The FDA spreads lies and alarms Americans while preventing drug companies from providing us with scientific explorations of existing, promising, generic drugs.”

Early Treatment Is Crucial

There’s no doubt that many have died unnecessarily due to our health authorities’ incomprehensible decision to discourage all prevention and early treatment of COVID-19. As noted by many doctors, early treatment is absolutely crucial for preventing hospitalization, death and long-term side effects of the infection.

There are several proven protocols to choose from at this point, including the following. Whichever treatment protocol you use, make sure you begin treatment as soon as possible, ideally at first onset of symptoms.

  • The Zelenko protocol28
  • The MATH+ protocols29
  • Nebulized hydrogen peroxide, as detailed in Dr. David Brownstein’s case paper30 and Dr. Thomas Levy’s free e-book, “Rapid Virus Recovery”
Source : Mercola More   

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