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Arkansas prisoner sues after receiving ivermectin to treat COVID-19: NPR

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A box of ivermectin is displayed at a pharmacy while pharmacists work in the background last year in Georgia. Mike Stewart / AP hide caption

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Mike Stewart / AP
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A box of ivermectin is displayed at a pharmacy while pharmacists work in the background last year in Georgia.

Mike Stewart / AP

Four inmates at a prison in Arkansas have filed a federal lawsuit after they said medical staff gave them the antiparasitic drug ivermectin to treat COVID-19 without telling them what it was. The inmates said they were told the medication they were taking was "vitamins", "antibiotics" or "steroids".

Federal health authorities and leading medical experts warn that ivermectin should not be used to treat the virus, but a small group of doctors and a choir of right-wing figures has approved the drug for COVID-19 patients.

The complaint names Washington County Sheriff Tim Helder, Washington County Detention Center, Dr. Robert Karas and his medical practice, Karas Health Care.

"No one - including incarcerated people - should be deceived and subjected to medical experiments," said Gary Sullivan, legal director of the Arkansas ACLU, which filed the lawsuit. "Sheriff Helder has a responsibility to provide food, shelter and safe, appropriate care to incarcerated persons."

Ivermectin has been hailed as a "miracle cure" for treating parasitic infections in humans since the 1980s. It was originally launched as a dewormer for livestock.

But while it may be a medical innovation to treat parasites, leading medical experts say the same is not the case for COVID-19. The FDA has not approved the drug for the treatment or prevention of the virus, and in September the American Medical Association, the American Pharmacists Association and the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists issued a joint statement saying that ivermectin should not be used to treat COVID-19 infections. outside of a clinical trial.

The plaintiffs in the lawsuit - Edrick Floreal-Wooten, Jeremiah Little, Julio Gonzales and Dayman Blackburn - say they still received ivermectin in "high doses", which caused them to develop side effects such as vision problems, diarrhea, bloody stools and stomach. cramps.

The Washington County Sheriff's Office said it was unable to comment on pending lawsuits.

But during a finance and budget committee in Washington County in August, Sheriff Helder reportedly praised Kara's Health Care, saying that what a doctor prescribes is not in his "bailiwick" because he has not been to medical school, according to the local TV station. KNWA.

Kara's Health Care did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Just days after the trial was filed, a post on Kara's Health Care's Facebook page signed by "Dr. Rob and Team" said: "Prisoners are not stupid and I suspect other inmates around the country in the future will sue their facilities and request the same treatment we use at the WCDC, including Ivermectin. "

Karas said he has been successful in using ivermectin to treat COVID-19, that he regularly gives it to patients with the virus, and that he himself has taken it and also given it to family members.

The Arkansas State Medical Board opened an investigation into Karas in August, according to NBC News.

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