Unlicensed Drug for Sick Cats Sold for $10k on Facebook Black Market
GS-441524, a variant of remdesivir, has been sold as a treatment for a deadly disease suffered by cats through a black market in closed Facebook groups, according to Business Insider.
Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP), the cat disease, is caused by a type of a coronavirus, the same family of pathogen that causes COVID-19 in humans.
The use of GS was pioneered by Emeritus Professor Niels Pedersen, a veterinary science expert at University of California Davis. He claimed that FIP “is now 80% or more curable with GS-441524.”
In closed Facebook groups, members have exchanged advice on how to treat sick cats and called GS a “miracle cure”.
Although no transaction has happened on the platform, desperate cat owners have built large Facebook groups which provide people access to the vendors.
However, the Food and Drugs Administration has not licensed GS as a treatment for FIP. To legally ship and sell the drug to the US, some vendors labeled it as a human dietary supplement.
Gilead, the pharmaceuticals firm that has the rights to GS, has refused to license the drug for use in cats.
Pedersen said that “as it is approved and commercialized in the normal manner, the black market demand for drugs like GS and GC will wane.”
Anna Mitchell, an anti-black market campaigner, said that Pedersen’s support would “balloon the dangerous black market in Facebook groups - specifically one that has become gigantic and is really the supply route between the manufacturers and their buyers in the US.”
According to a screenshot offered by Mitchell, a typical course of treatment could be sold for up to $10,000 from a black market.
Some owners reported negative side-effects in their cats, said Mitchell.
Facebook groups attempt to screen the drug for purity. “We were able to have several different ‘brands’ of GS vials tested in a reputable university lab and the results confirmed the biological activity of the GS,” said Kintz, the group administrator.
People who believe that GS might be a treatment of COVID-19 in humans also reached out to these groups.