Coronavirus: Ohio judge reverses order requiring hospital to treat COVID-19 patient with ivermectin

An Ohio judge on Monday denied a preliminary injunction that would have forced a hospital to continue administering ivermectin, a drug typically used to treat livestock for parasites, to a man hospitalized in an intensive care unit with COVID-19.

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“Judges are not doctors or nurses,” Hamilton County Common Pleas Judge Michael Oster wrote in his ruling, issued two weeks after a different judge temporarily ordered West Chester Hospital to give the drug to 51-year-old Jeffrey Smith. “We have gavels, not needles, vaccines, or other medicines.”

Court records showed Smith, a father of three, tested positive for COVID-19 on July 9. Six days later, he was admitted to the intensive care unit at West Chester Hospital, where he remained Monday.

He has been on a ventilator since Aug. 1.

Oster heard two days of testimony last week over a complaint filed Aug. 20 by Smith’s wife, Julie Smith, that sought to force West Chester Hospital to administer ivermectin as prescribed by his physician, Dr. Fred Wagshul. The doctor prescribed a 30 mg dose of ivermectin once daily for three weeks, McClatchy News reported.

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“The ivermectin that was prescribed is for human use, and is approved by the FDA to treat internal and external parasites,” Oster wrote in his ruling. “However, Dr. Wagshul prescribed the mediation without having seen Jeff Smith and does not have privileges at West Chester Hospital.”

He emphasized that his ruling was not meant to determine the effectiveness of using ivermectin to treat COVID-19, however, he wrote, “After considering all of the evidence presented in this case, there can be no doubt that the medical and scientific communities do not support the use of ivermectin as a treatment for COVID-19.”

He added that in testimony, Wagshul “was only able to say that Jeff Smith ‘seems to be’ getting better after receiving ivermectin,” and that when asked if the continued use of ivermectin would benefit Jeffrey Smith, he said, “I honestly don’t know.”

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“What is more, based upon the testimony, Jeff Smith is capable of being safely and medically appropriately moved to a hospital where Dr. Wagshul has privileges,” Oster wrote. “If continued use of ivermectin under Dr. Wagshul’s treatment regimen is desired, Plaintiff has this as an available option without the need of intervention by a court.”

Wagshul is a founding physician of the Front Line COVID-19 Critical Care Alliance, according to WBNS-TV. On its website, the group says it regards ivermectin “as a core medication in the prevention and treatment of COVID-19.”

Ivermectin is not an anti-viral medication. It is typically used to treat animals for parasites although smaller dosages can be prescribed for human use.

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The Food and Drug Administration, the American Medical Association, the American Pharmacists Association and several other public health groups have urged people not to take ivermectin to treat COVID-19, citing the overdose risk posed by self-medication and the fact that the drug has not undergone a clinical trial to determine its effectiveness against COVID-19. In a health advisory issued last month by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, officials warned that they were seeing a rise in calls to poison control centers in which callers reported overdoses or adverse effects after taking ivermectin.

Since the start of the pandemic, officials across the U.S. have reported more than 40.1 million COVID-19 cases, resulting in over 649,000 deaths, according to a tally from Johns Hopkins University. Globally, nearly 221.6 million COVID-19 cases have been reported, resulting in 4.5 million deaths, according to Johns Hopkins.