A Butler County Common Pleas judge is ordering doctors at West Chester Hospital to treat a COVID-19 patient with Ivermectin, a drug commonly used as a livestock dewormer.
Judge Gregory Howard wrote that doctors treating 51-year-old Jeffery Smith “shall immediately administer Ivermectin” to Smith, according to court documents. Smith will receive 30mg of the drug for three weeks.
The case was brought to court by Smith’s wife and guardian, Julie, after Smith was hospitalized with COVID-19 and placed on a ventilator in West Chester Hospital.
After Smith was on the ventilator for 19 days, Julie reached out to Dr. Fred Wagshul about Ivermectin usage to treat COVID-19, according to court documents. Wagshul prescribed 30mg of Ivermectin to Smith, but the hospital staff refused to administer this prescription.
Ivermectin has grown in 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 to be used 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.
“Animal drugs are often highly concentrated because they are used for large animals like horses and cows, which can weigh a lot more than we do—a ton or more,” the FDA wrote. “Such high doses can be highly toxic in humans.”
Barrett Brunsman with Cincinnati Children’s Hospital said the Cincinnati Drug and Poison Information Center at the hospital has received about five phone calls since April related to COVID-19 and Ivermectin.
Dr. Steve Feagins, chief clinical officer with Mercy Health, called the decision to prescribe Ivermectin in COVID cases “a tough risk-to-benefit ratio.”
“Anything we give in a hospital, you have to know that that has been pharmacy-vetted, approved, is the benefit exceeds the harm,” Feagins told WCPO. “But I could tell you, if something works and is approved and authorized, we will do it.
“I absolutely understand desperation when your loved one is in the hospital, and they’re doing everything they can and you hear about something that you want to use it,” he said.