WEST CHESTER, Ohio — The wife of a hospitalized and intubated COVID-19 patient cannot force UC West Chester Hospital to continue treating her husband with ivermectin, an anti-parasitic medication with no clinically proven effectiveness against the novel coronavirus, a judge ruled Monday morning.
“While this court is sympathetic to the plaintiff and understands the idea of wanting to do anything to help her loved one, public policy should not and does not support allowing a physician to ‘try’ any type of treatment on human beings,” wrote Judge Michael Oster in his ruling.
Julie Smith, whose husband, Jeff Smith, has been hospitalized in intensive care since July 15, sought an injunction against UC West Chester Hospital after it refused to administer the medication despite a prescription from an outside doctor.
The doctor in question, Dr. Fred Wagshul, had not seen Smith in person at the time of the prescription, did not know Smith’s medical history and does not have privileges at West Chester Hospital.
But the prescription "gave me hope that there was something we could try," Julie Smith said. "I didn't want to just sit there and let him die."
She filed her request for an injunction in August, and Judge Gregory Howard ordered the hospital to continue giving it to Jeff Smith until the case had been resolved.
Oster’s ruling resolves it.
“We are certainly disappointed with the court’s decision today,” wrote Jonathan Davidson, one of Julie Smith’s attorneys, in an email on Monday. “I know this was a decision that Judge Oster did not take lightly. Fortunately, Mr. Smith was able to receive 14 days of treatment of Ivermectin, during which time his condition did improve. While he has likely received his last dose at UC West Chester hospital, we can only hope his condition continues to trend positively."
Although ivermectin is FDA-approved to treat infections caused by parasites in humans and livestock, no medical authority recommends it for the treatment of COVID-19. The FDA, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, American Medical Association and National Institute for Health all discourage its use on coronavirus patients.
Despite that discouragement, the CDC has recorded a sharp increase in the number of ivermectin prescriptions and adverse ivermectin reactions since the start of July. Some patients have purchased the medicine over the internet and taken it without knowing exactly how much they’re getting; others have injured themselves by drinking large doses of ivermectin products intended for livestock.