Four inmates at an Arkansas jail have filed a lawsuit against the facility and its doctor after they said they were unknowingly prescribed ivermectin to treat Covid-19 as a form of “medical experimentation” despite US health officials warning that the anti-parasitic drug should not be used for that purpose.
The Arkansas chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union filed the lawsuit on behalf of the men last week against Washington county jail, the Washington county sheriff, Tim Helder, and jail physician Dr Robert Karas. Last August, Helder revealed that the drug had been prescribed to patients with Covid-19.
“The lawsuit charges the defendants for administering ivermectin to incarcerated individuals without prior informed consent as to the nature, contents, or potential side effects of the drug,” the ACLU said in a statement last week.
Gary Sullivan, legal director of the ACLU of Arkansas, condemned Helder’s actions, saying: “No one – including incarcerated individuals – should be deceived and subject to medical experimentation. Sheriff Helder has a responsibility to provide food, shelter, and safe, appropriate care to incarcerated individuals.”
“Plaintiffs ingested incredibly high doses of a drug that credible medical professionals, the FDA, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), all agree is not an effective treatment against Covid-19, and that if given in large doses is dangerous for humans,” the lawsuit said.
The lawsuit went on to allege that Karas told the inmates that the prescribed drugs “consisted of mere ‘vitamins’, ‘antibiotics,’ and/or ‘steroids’”. It added, “Had plaintiffs been informed that the drugs they were given included the dewormer ivermectin and informed of its nature and potential side-effects, they would have refused to take it.”
According to the lawsuit, the inmates suffered from side-effects that included vision issues, diarrhea, bloody stools and stomach cramps. The inmates were also subject to payment of fees for medical examinations that they sought after experiencing the side-effects from the drug.
Karas has said he began administering ivermectin at the jail in November 2020. The four inmates were prescribed ivermectin after testing positive for Covid-19 in August, the lawsuit said,
In a letter sent by his attorney last September, Karas told a state medical board examiner that 254 inmates at the jail had been treated with the drug.
The medical board has been investigating complaints against Karas over the jail’s use of ivermectin and is expected to discuss the investigation’s findings at its February meeting.
Ivermectin has been touted worldwide. But last July, a major study that supported the medication as a Covid treatment was withdrawn over ethical concerns.
As reports of ivermectin use continue, the federal Food and Drug Administration warned against using animal-strength forms of the drug as a treatment for Covid-19.
“Taking large doses of this drug is dangerous and can cause serious harm,” it said, adding that the drug can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, delirium and death.