Ohio Judge Orders Hospital to Treat COVID Patient With Deworming Drug Ivermectin

An Ohio judge has ordered a hospital to treat a COVID-19 patient with the controversial livestock drug ivermectin.

Butler County Common Pleas Judge Gregory Howard issued the ruling last week, forcing West Chester Hospital to treat Jeffrey Smith with the 30 milligrams of the drug daily for three weeks.

Smith's wife, Julie Smith, had sued the hospital after it refused to administer ivermectin—an animal dewormer that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have warned against in treating COVID-19.

Her husband tested positive for the coronavirus on July 9, according to court documents. He was hospitalized and admitted to the intensive care unit on July 15. On August 1, he was intubated and placed on a ventilator.

Julie Smith said she began researching other courses of treatment and found out about cases where patients had been given ivermectin.

She connected with her husband's physician, Dr. Fred Wagshul—described in the lawsuit as an "expert on using Ivermectin in treating Covid-19"—who prescribed the drug. The hospital then refused to administer it.

"My husband is on death's doorstep; he has no other options," she said. "With absolutely nothing to lose, with little to no risk, and with the Defendant likely to begin palliative care, there is no basis for it to refuse Dr. Wagshul's order and prescription to administer Ivermectin to their mutual patient."

Howard ruled in her favor on August 23, stating that the hospital "shall immediately administer" ivermectin to Smith, 51. The hospital is part of the UC Health network.

UC Health spokesperson Amanda Nageleisen told Newsweek that the network cannot "comment on litigation or answer questions, and HIPAA patient privacy laws prevent me from commenting on any specifics of patient care."

Ivermectin is approved by the FDA for use in humans to treat certain parasitic worm infections. But federal regulators say there is no evidence it works on COVID-19 and warn that it can be dangerous in large doses.

"People who take inappropriately high doses of ivermectin above FDA-recommended dosing may experience toxic effects," the CDC said. The effects range from nausea and vomiting to seizures, coma and death.

The FDA said it has received "multiple reports of patients who have required medical support and been hospitalized after self-medicating with ivermectin intended for horses."

But prescriptions for ivermectin have significantly increased over the past few weeks, the CDC said.

"Since early July 2021, outpatient ivermectin dispensing has again begun to rapidly increase, reaching more than 88,000 prescriptions in the week ending August 13, 2021. This represents a 24-fold increase from the pre-pandemic baseline," the agency reported.

Calls to poison control centers about ivermectin exposures have spiked amid the country's latest wave of coronavirus cases and hospitalizations. Officials in Florida, Mississippi and Nevada have reported an uptick in calls about the deworming drug.

Update (8/30/2021, 4:45 p.m. ET): This story has been updated to include a comment from a UC Health spokesperson.

Ohio Judge Orders Hospital To Use Ivermectin
An Ohio judge has ordered a hospital to treat a COVID-19 patient with the controversial livestock drug ivermectin. Above, a health worker shows a bottle of ivermectin as part of a study at the Center for Pediatric Infectious Diseases Studies in Cali, Colombia, on July 21, 2020. Luis Robayo/Getty Images