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South Korea Runs Out of Dog Deworming Medicine Because People Think It Cures Cancer

Remember that story we ran a few months ago about a man who claimed he cured his terminal cancer with a cheap dog deworming medicine? Well, apparently it recently went viral in South Korea and stocks of the antiparasitic medicine have been depleted.

Back in May, the story of Joe Tippens, an Oklahoma man who allegedly cured his terminal with the help of a $5 dog deworming drug called fenbendazole, went viral. Doctors said the cancer had spread everywhere in his body and he only had about three months to live, but today he is cured and he credits the veterinary medicine for the miracle. The news made headlines all around the world, but it really made a big impact in South Korea, where stocks of fenbendazole have evaporated due to people buying it as a way to prevent or cure cancer.

Despite several warnings by doctors and the South Korean government regarding potential side-effects of taking fenbendazole, the drug has been virtually flying off the helves of vet pharmacies. The craze stated back in September, when YouTube videos detailing the story of Joe Tippens with Korean subtitles started becoming popular. Soon, cancer patients started following the  American’s example, taking small doses of the deworming medicine and documenting their experience on social media. Doctors’ attempts to discourage people from taking fenbendazole have so far been unsuccessful.

“We can’t recommend the use of the drug as no clinical trials have been conducted on humans and its safety has not been confirmed,” the Korean Medical Association stated, which only inspired thousands of people to sign a petition asking the Government to start clinical trial and find out if the cheap veterinary medicine works as a cancer cure or not.

 

Vet pharmacies all over South Korean have been reporting increased demand for fenbendazole from people desperate to cure themselves or their relatives of cancer, as well as difficulties securing stocks of the dog dewormer.

“It has become difficult to secure fenbendazole over the past few weeks following the news about the US cancer patient taking the drug,” one pharmacist told the South China Morning Post. “Patients seem to be greatly influenced by what they read online.”

 

A veterinary surgeon told the Hong-Kong-based newspaper that he understands people’s desperate situations, but he simply won’t sell it for use by humans, as it’s a drug meant for animals. His views are shared by other medical experts, some of whom claim the fenbendazole craze has already resulted in some serious health issues, including people being rushed to the emergency room with intestinal necrosis caused by fenbendazole overdoses.

Despite all the warnings, the craze shows no signs of dying down, and with celebrities like South Korean comedian and singer Kim Chul-min, who suffers from stage four lung cancer, jumping on the fenbendazole bandwagon, doctors appear to have their hands full. And many of them are blaming YouTube.

 

“The craze about fenbendazole could not have happened without the internet. YouTube is spreading fast and wide what appears to be a false hope,” doctor Ahn Byoung-hai told SCMP.