An Ohio judge made waves earlier this week when he ordered a local hospital to treat a COVID-19 patient with the anti-parasitic drug ivermectin, which is usually used to deworm livestock. The internet is full of conspiracy theories that say the drug can be used to treat and prevent COVID-19, but there’s no evidence to support these claims.
While ivermectin is used to treat a variety of ailments in humans, the FDA has not approved it for treatment of COVID-19 and discourages its use as it relates to the virus, so why did the court order the hospital to administer the drug?
An Unusual Request
Jeffrey Smith, 51, tested positive COVID-19 on July 9th before winding up at West Chester Hospital in Ohio several days later.
According to a lawsuit brought by his wife Julie Smith, Jeffery was placed on a ventilator on August 1st. His condition worsened by August 3rd after his sedation medication wore off. That’s when Smith woke up and ripped “the air tube out of his esophagus, disturbing and/or breaking the feeding tube, which caused food particles and toxins to escape into his lungs,” according to the official complaint.
By August 19th, Jeffery’s chances of survival dipped below 30 percent. He was forced into a medically induced coma after the hospital had “exhausted its course of treatment and Covid-19 protocol in treating Jeffrey,” the complaint says.
Julie Smith then begged the hospital to administer ivermectin as a last resort. “My husband is on death’s doorstep,” she wrote, according to an affidavit. “He has no other options.”
Fred Wagshul, a doctor unaffiliated with the hospital, prescribed Smith ivermectin, but West Chester providers refused to administer the drug for safety concerns. Wagshul says refusing to prescribe and administer ivermectin for COVID-19 is akin to “genocide”.
After the hospital refused her request, Julie Smith asked the court for a declaratory judgment. The judge approved her request and ordered West Chester to administer the drug on August 23rd.
The official ruling didn’t explain the judge’s reasoning, but said Smith will be given 30 milligrams of ivermectin daily for 21 days.
Neither Smith nor West Chester Hospital could be reached for comment, but Smith’s lawyer, Jonathan Davidson, confirmed that Jeffery Smith is alive and will be on ivermectin for the next three weeks.
“We’re just waiting right now,” Davidson added.
In response to the complaint, a lawyer for the hospital said it acted in “good faith and with a reasonable belief that its actions were following law, policy, and consensus medical opinion prohibiting the Hospital from administering ivermectin to Jeffrey Smith.”
The Ivermectin Problem
Many people are turning to ivermectin after coming down with the coronavirus.
An ER doctor from Oklahoma recently said the number of people overdosing on the drug has gotten so high the emergency room is now filled to the brim.
Reports show some people are taking dangerous amounts of ivermectin normally prescribed to livestock. There is a version of the drug that’s been used to treat parasitic infections in humans for decades, but some people seem to be gobbling up whatever they can get their hands on.
Dr. Jason McElyea said, “The ERs are so backed up that gunshot victims were having hard times getting to facilities where they can get definitive care and be treated.
“All of their ambulances are stuck at the hospital waiting for a bed to open so they can take the patient in and they don’t have any, that’s it. If there’s no ambulance to take the call, there’s no ambulance to come to the call,” he added.
McElyea says many of his patients are familiar with ivermectin, having grown up around livestock. “Because of those accidental sticks when trying to inoculate cattle, they’re less afraid of it.”
He’s seen more than his fair share of patients seeking treatment after ingesting enough ivermectin for a full-size horse, with symptoms ranging from vision loss to nausea and vomiting. The FDA, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health have warned against prescribing ivermectin to treat the coronavirus, saying its use can “cause serious harm.” The CDC recently issued a health advisory warning that self-prescribing with ivermectin can lead to coma, seizures, and death.
“Some people taking inappropriate doses have actually put themselves in worse conditions than if they’d caught COVID,” McElyea said.
The Mississippi State Department of Health says “at least 70 percent of the recent calls” to the state’s poison-control center have been from people ingesting ivermectin to treat or prevent COVID-19.
The drug continues to make the rounds in conservative circles, but providers say there’s just not enough evidence to suggest it will do any good for COVID patients.
Steve Feagins, chief clinical officer with Mercy Health in Cincinnati, says he understands why people are so desperate for treatment after coming down with COVID-19, but prescribing ivermectin to patients is “a tough risk-to-benefit ratio.”
“Anything we give in a hospital, you have to know that that has been pharmacy-vetted, approved,” and that “the benefit exceeds the harm,” Feagins said. “But I could tell you, if something works and is approved and authorized, we will do it.”
Don’t be surprised if someone comes into your office or hospital after overdosing on ivermectin.