Judge will not rule on ivermectin in Arkansas jail

Judge will not rule on ivermectin in Arkansas jail

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) — A federal judge has refused to dismiss a lawsuit alleging that inmates at an Arkansas prison were given the drug ivermectin to fight COVID-19 without their knowledge.

The lawsuit claims that inmates at the Washington County Jail in Fayetteville were given ivermectin in early November 2020 but went undetected until July 2021. Ivermectin is approved by the Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of parasitic infections such as intestinal worms and head lice and some skin conditions. , such as rosacea. It is not, and was not at the time, approved for the treatment of COVID-19.

US District Judge Timothy L. Brooks ruled Thursday that the case could go forward, saying Dr. Robert Karas used the inmates for a test, The Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported. Report

The plaintiffs in the suit are Edric Florial-Wooten, Jeremiah Little, Julio Gonzales, Thomas Fritsch and Damon Blackburn. The American Civil Liberties Union filed the lawsuit last year against Karas, Karas Correctional Health, former Washington County Sheriff Tim Helder and the Washington County Detention Center.

In a written opinion, Brooks said Karas began conducting his own research and hypothesized that the drug could be an effective treatment for COVID-19.

Karas prescribed ivermectin to two groups of test subjects. The first consisted of people who sought Karas’ services at his private medical clinic and agreed to take ivermectin as part of an experimental treatment for COVID-19, Brooks noted. The second set consisted of prison inmates.

Brooks wrote, “Inmates received Dr. Karas’ treatment protocol for Covid-19, but did not know it included ivermectin. “Dr. Karas and his staff falsely told the inmates that the treatment consisted merely of ‘vitamins’, ‘antibiotics’ and/or ‘steroids.’ Critically, the inmates had no idea they were part of Dr. Karas’ experiment.”

Because the detainees were never told their “treatment” contained ivermectin, they were never warned about the drug’s side effects, Brooks said. According to the FDA, side effects of the drug include skin rash, nausea and vomiting.

Also, Karas hypothesized that larger doses of ivermectin would be most effective in the fight against COVID-19. The problem, however, according to Brooks, is that the FDA only approved a 0.2 mg/kg dose for treating worms. Karas eventually prescribed lower doses of ivermectin for his clinic patients and higher doses for his incarcerated patients.

“At first reading, it would seem highly unlikely — even inconceivable — that a doctor dosed his prison patients more aggressively with an experimental drug than his private patients, but plaintiffs point to evidence in their prison medical records,” Brooks wrote. wrote

Brooks also said it’s possible that Helder knew or should have known that Karas was testing ivermectin on inmates without their knowledge because of Karas’ social media postings, and that he approved, condoned or turned a blind eye to this violation of their rights.

“The incarcerated individuals had no idea they were part of a medical experiment,” Gary Sullivan, legal director of the ACLU of Arkansas, said in a news release Friday. “Sheriff Helder and Dr. Karas routinely misrepresented the basic nature of plaintiffs’ claims in their request for dismissal by refusing to address the most salient allegations in the complaint.”

Brooks found Karas is not entitled to immunity that protects state and local governments from damages unless they violate the Constitution. Brooks said Karas and his clinic sought and won a county contract to provide health care to several hundred inmates at the jail over many years at a cost of more than $1.3 million a year.

Brooks also stated that the inmates made a reasonable claim for battery that Karas intentionally withheld details of a treatment to induce an inmate visitor to take a particular drug for his own professional and personal goals.

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