A Butler Common Pleas County judge is ordering doctors at West Chester Hospital to treat a COVID-19 patient with ivermectin, a drug commonly used as a dewormer for livestock.
Judge Gregory Howard wrote that doctors treating Jeffery Smith, 51, would “administer ivermectin immediately” to Smith, according to court documents. Smith will receive 30 mg of the drug for three weeks.
The case was taken to court by Smith’s wife and guardian, Julie, after Smith was hospitalized with COVID-19 and placed on a ventilator at West Chester Hospital.
After Smith was on a ventilator for 19 days, Julie contacted Dr Fred Wagshul about the use of ivermectin to treat COVID-19, according to court documents. Wagshul prescribed 30 mg of ivermectin for Smith, but hospital staff refused to give him the prescription.
Ivermectin has gained popularity as a treatment for COVID-19 despite the Food and Drug Administration warning against taking the drug.
“Taking large doses of this drug is dangerous and can cause serious harm,” the FDA wrote.
The FDA has approved the drug for use in patients with intestinal strongyloidiasis and onchocerciasis, two conditions caused by parasitic worms, as well as head lice. However, the administration has not approved the drug as a treatment for COVID-19, a viral disease.
“Medicines for animals are often very concentrated because they are used for large animals like horses and cows, which can weigh much more than us, a ton or more,” wrote the FDA. “Such high doses can be highly toxic in humans.”
Barrett Brunsman of the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital said the hospital’s Cincinnati Drug and Poison Information Center has received about five phone calls since April related to COVID-19 and ivermectin.
Dr Steve Feagins, clinical director of Mercy Health, called the decision to prescribe ivermectin in COVID cases “a difficult risk-benefit ratio.”
“Anything we donate in a hospital, you have to know that it’s been approved by the pharmacy, the benefit outweighs the harm,” Feagins told WCPO. “But I could tell you that if something works and is approved and authorized, we will.
“I absolutely understand the desperation when your loved one is in the hospital, and doing all they can and you hear about something that you want to use,” he said.