A Butler County judge has ruled that West Chester Hospital cannot be compelled to administer ivermectin to a COVID-19 patient.
Common Pleas Court Judge Michael Oster Jr. issued the ruling Monday morning as a 14-day temporary injunction granted by another judge expired.
Ivermectin is an antiparasitic treatment commonly used for livestock, and is recommended by the FDA to treat "infections caused by some parasitic worms" in humans as well as head lice and rosacea. Interest in the drug has spiked as the delta variant has ravaged the country. That interest has been fueled by endorsements from allies of former President Donald Trump as well as U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wisc., plus Fox News personalities Laura Ingraham and Sean Hannity.
While some studies are underway, none of the major medical organizations recommend the drug as a treatment for COVID-19, and the CDC warned reports of poisoning related to the use of ivermectin have increased threefold this year, spiking in July.
"Everyone involved wants Jeff Smith to get better. Simply stated, there are no bad actors in this case. Just the bad of a worldwide pandemic, COVID-19," Oster wrote.
The judge said it is "impossible not to feel sympathetic" said Julie Smith, who is the guardian for her husband, Jeffrey Smith, 51. He's been in the hospital with the novel coronavirus since July 15, according to court documents.
But the judge wrote he must leave emotions out of the decision and ruled that Smith and her lawyers did not overcome the high burden need to maintain the injunction.
Oster said there was no clear evidence that ivermectin is effective against COVID-19 presented in court and that he must also consider the rights of the hospital and the impact that forcing a hospital to give a drug could have.
"The FDA, CDC, AMA and APhAA and the doctors of West Chester Hospital do not believe that ivermectin should be used to treat COVID-19," Oster wrote.
He also said that Jeffrey Smith could be moved to another hospital where the drug could be administered.
Oster also said the doctor who testified about Jeffrey Smith's condition could only say he "seemed to be" getting better.
In his ruling, Oster recalled Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, who despised people burning the American flag, but twice upheld the constitutionality of doing so.
"COVID-19 has ravaged the world," Oster wrote. "However, the rule of law must be followed once the court system is involved. The law in its purest form shall have neither hatred nor sympathy to anyone or anything. It shall stand unwavering in its truth, justice, and fairness to call."
Kelly Martin, spokeswoman for UC Health which operates West Chester Hospital, said the ruling is "positive" in regards to the respect for science and the expertise of medical professionals, and reiterated that COVID-19 is still a threat.
"We implore all members of the community to do what we know works: wear a mask, become fully vaccinated and use social distancing whenever possible," Martin said. "At UC Health, we respect the expertise of our clinicians and appreciate the scientific rigor used to develop treatments, medications and other therapies. We do not believe that hospitals or clinicians should be ordered to administer medications and/or therapies, especially unproven medications and/or therapies, against medical advice."