CINCINNATTI — A suburban Cincinnati woman, whose husband has been on a ventilator in the hospital with COVID-19, won a court order forcing the hospital to treat her husband's virus with an anti-parasitic treatment commonly used for livestock.
The case is one of a handful nationwide where courts have sided with family members and forced doctors to use Ivermectin, which is unproven in the treatment of COVID-19 and is not recommended by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Jeffrey Smith, 51, came down with COVID-19 in early July and has been in the intensive care unit of a Butler County hospital for weeks. His wife, Julie Smith, asked in Butler County Common Pleas Court on Aug. 20 for an emergency order for the use of Ivermectin.
Judge Gregory Howard gave the go-ahead on Aug. 23 to Dr. Fred Wagshul's prescription of 30 milligrams of Ivermectin daily for three weeks, as requested by his wife. Court documents show Julie Smith is the guardian for her husband.
Wagshul is a Dayton, Ohio-area pulmonologist who is listed as a founder of the Front Line COVID-19 Critical Care Alliance, a nonprofit that touts Ivermectin as both a preventative and treatment for COVID-19. The organization's “How To Get Ivermectin” section on its websites includes prices and locations of pharmacies that will supply it.
Julie Smith explored Ivermectin as an option for her husband's treatment on her own and connected with Wagshul. He prescribed the drug, and the hospital refused to administer it.
Poison control centers have been an uptick in calls about the drug, with some callers reporting significant symptoms such as extreme vomiting or blurred vision.
Ivermectin was originally developed to deworm livestock animals before doctors began using it against parasitic diseases among humans. The drug is available with a prescription to treat head lice, onchocerciasis (river blindness) and other ailments in humans.
The FDA, the CDC and the National Institutes of Health have warned Americans against the use of Ivermectin to treat COVID-19, a viral disease. The drug is unproven as a treatment, they say, and large doses of it can be dangerous and cause serious harm.
As the delta variant has caused high transmission rates of COVID-19, rising interest in the drug has been fueled by endorsements from allies of former President Donald Trump as well as U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wisc., and Fox News personalities Laura Ingraham and Sean Hannity. The CDC warned reports of poisoning related to use of Ivermectin have increased threefold this year, spiking in July.
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Julie Smith filed the lawsuit on behalf of her husband of 24 years. He tested positive for COVID-19 July 9, and was admitted to the ICU July 15 where he was put on the hospital's COVID-19 protocol of the antiviral drug Remdesivir along with plasma and steroids. On July 27, "after a period of relative stability," Jeffrey Smith's condition began to decline.
He was sedated and intubated and placed on a ventilator on Aug. 1 and later placed in a medically induced coma. "My husband is on death's doorstep; he has no other options," she wrote in an affidavit filed with her lawsuit, adding at another point that her husband's chances of survival had "dropped to less than 30%."
Julie Smith says her husband is a network engineer for Verizon. "He enjoys fishing, hiking and campaign with our family," she said in the affidavit. The Smiths live in Fairfield Township and have three children. "Family is his everything," Julie Smith said.
The lawsuit doesn’t mention whether Jeffrey Smith is vaccinated against COVID-19. However, overwhelming majorities of people currently hospitalized with COVID-19 are unvaccinated – data from the Ohio Department of Health shows of roughly 21,000 Ohioans hospitalized with COVID-19 since Jan. 1, only about 500 were vaccinated.
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A hospital spokeswoman said she couldn't comment on litigation and federal patient privacy laws prevent her from commenting on any specifics of patient care.
Smith is represented by lawyer Ralph Lorigo, the chairman of New York’s Erie County Conservative Party, who has successfully file two similar cases in Illinois (one against a Chicago area hospital and two more in upstate New York).
In an interview with the Ohio Capital Journal, Wagshul said the science behind Ivermectin’s use in COVID-19 patients is “irrefutable.” The CDC and FDA engaged in a “conspiracy,” he said, to block its use to protect the FDA’s emergency use authorization for COVID-19 vaccines. He said the mainstream media and social media companies have been engaging in “censorship” on Ivermectin’s merits, and that the U.S. government’s refusal to acknowledge its benefits amounts to genocide.
Wagshul also said he had no financial interest in the sale of Ivermectin.
Dr. Leanne Chrisman-Khawam, a physician and professor at the Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine, called the Front Line COVID-19 Critical Care Alliance “snake oil salesmen.”
She reviewed the association’s research on the drug’s uses and said there are some serious problems with its cited studies: many of them don’t show positive results, and those that do bear design flaws like small control groups, unaccounted for variables, nonblinded studies, not accounting for mitigations like vaccines and masking practices, and others.
“Based on evidence-based medicine and my read on this large number of small studies, I would find this very suspect, even the positive outcomes,” she told the Ohio Capital Journal.
This article originally appeared on Cincinnati Enquirer: Ohio judge orders hospital to treat COVID patient with Ivermectin