An Ohio judge has reversed an earlier court ruling that forced a local hospital to administer ivermectin to a COVID-19 patient after the man’s wife filed a lawsuit demanding that he be given the anti-parasite drug.
The Butler County judge on Monday said that though “it is impossible not to feel sympathetic” for the patient’s wife, not a single public health body in the U.S. supports the drug’s use for treating COVID-19.
“While this court is sympathetic to the Plaintiff and understands the idea of wanting to do anything to help her loved one, public policy should not and does not support allowing a physician to try ‘any’ type of treatment on human beings,” said Common Pleas Judge Michael Oster Jr. in his ruling.
A judge last month issued a temporary injunction that ordered West Chester Hospital, located roughly 18 miles north of Cincinnati, to administer the drug to 51-year-old ICU patient Jeffrey Smith after it was prescribed to him by a doctor who is unaffiliated with the hospital. Doctors at the hospital had otherwise refused to administer the drug, against the requests of Smith’s wife, Julie Smith, who filed a lawsuit against the health care facility on behalf of her husband.
Ivermectin, when prescribed to humans, is typically used to treat parasitic worms but has recently developed a baseless reputation as a coronavirus treatment for humans. Some Republican politicians, Fox News personalities, and the comedian podcaster Joe Rogan have spoken out about using it to treat COVID-19. Federal health officials have repeatedly urged against taking the drug as a COVID-19 treatment, however, warning that it is not an effective treatment and people have required medical attention, including hospitalization, after self-medicating.
With the judge’s injunction, the drug was consequently administered to Smith, and his wife later testified that she believed he was getting better as a result. The doctor who prescribed the drug, Fred Wagshul, has not seen Smith but also testified that Smith “seems to be” getting better after being given ivermectin but offered no supporting evidence. Wagshul also said that he doesn’t know if continued treatment for Smith will help, according to Oster’s ruling.
“When the evidence presented to this court is taken as a whole, Plaintiff has simply not made the requisite showing that there is a strong or substantial likelihood of success on the merits,” Oster said.
The judge suggested that if Julie Smith still wants her husband to be given the drug, she has the right to move her husband to a health care facility that supports administering the drug for COVID-19.
An attorney representing Smith’s family told HuffPost they are “disappointed” with the judge’s decision, but they remain hopeful of his condition improving.
“Fortunately, Mr. Smith was able to receive 14 days of treatment of Ivermectin, during which time his condition did improve. While he has likely received his last dose at UC West Chester hospital, we can only hope his condition continues to trend positively,” attorney Jonathan Davidson said in an email Tuesday.