Butler County judge denies Ivermectin treatment order for COVID patient

A Butler County judge denied a Fairfield Twp. woman’s request that UC Health West Chester Hospital continue to treat her husband suffering from COVID-19 with Ivermectin for a longer period.

Julie Smith, whose 51-year-old husband, Jeffrey Smith, was breathing only with aid of a ventilator earlier this month, had won a temporary ruling Aug. 23 from Butler County Common Pleas Judge Gregory Howard that UC West Chester must honor a Centerville doctor’s prescription and treat Jeffrey Smith with Ivermectin.

That ruling came after an emergency hearing and was in effect for only 14 days. The case received national attention after the temporary ruling, which came during growing attention to the drug that critics say is meant to treat animals and is not proven to work in humans.

Judge Michael Oster Jr. held a hearing Thursday and Friday to determine a longer-term ruling.

With Monday’s ruling, the hospital will not continue the treatment of Ivermectin. It was prescribed for 21 days.

Oster said the legal question is “should an injunction be granted to force a hospital to honor the prescription of a doctor that has not seen a patient and has no privileges at said hospital thus forcing the hospital to give Ivermectin to a patient when the hospital’s doctors, the FDA, CDC and the AMA do not believe Ivermectin should be a recommended way to treat COVID-19?”

Julie Smith testified that when her husband continued to get worse and struggled on a ventilator at the West Chester hospital, she sought more possible treatment options. When she found Dr. Fred Waghsul of Centerville, a pulmonologist who has a practice with Lung Center of America and wrote an Ivermectin prescription for Jeffrey Smith, she said “it gave me hope that I didn’t have to just watch him die.”

Also during testimony, Julie Smith said her husband had improved since receiving the dosage prescribed by Waghsul after the emergency order was issued.

In his decision, Oster said the court is not determining whether Ivermectin will ever be effective and useful as a treatment for COVID-19, “however, based upon the evidence, it has not been shown to be effective at the juncture.”

“The best support in the medical community is a neutral position by the National Institute of Health. What is more, at the hearing, (Julie Smith’s) own witness, Dr. Wagshul, was only able to say that Jeff Smith ‘seemed to be’ getting better after receiving Ivermectin,” Oster wrote. “Dr. Wagshul further testified that ‘I honestly don’t know’ if continued use of Ivermectin will benefit Jeff Smith.”

Oster said that evidence must be balanced with the recommendations against the use of Ivermectin by national health organizations and the doctors who testified on behalf of the hospital.

“In fact … no single public health body in the United States supports the use of Ivermectin to treat COVID-19,” the judge said.

Oster also said that, based on testimony, Jeffrey Smith is capable of being moved safely to a hospital where Wagshul has privileges.

“If continued use of Ivermectin under Dr. Wagshul’s treatment regimen is desired, (Julie Smith) has this as an available option without need of intervention by the court,” Oster said in the ruling.

Oster said it is impossible not to feel sympathetic to the Smiths.

“The plaintiff wants her husband to get better. She has sought out a doctor who prescribed Ivermectin with the hopes that it could help. The defendant hospital wants to follow what it believes are appropriate medical standards and make the husband better using those protocols. Everyone involved wants Jeff Smith to get better. Simply stated, there or no bad actors in this case. Just the bad of a worldwide pandemic, COVID-19,” the judge said in the ruling.

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. We are grateful for the judge’s careful consideration and for the judicial process in this matter,” said Kelly Martin, UC Health spokeswoman.

The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention has issued an official health advisory, cautioning, “Ivermectin is not authorized or approved by FDA for prevention or treatment of COVID-19,” and stating that the National Institutes of Health have found insufficient data to recommend it for use against the disease.

The medication is mainly used for large animals, such as horses, sheep and cattle, and “can be highly concentrated and result in overdoses when used in humans,” the CDC wrote.

The FDA said Ivermectin tablets are approved for humans at very specific doses for some parasitic worms, also and there are approved formulations that can be used on the skin, not internally, for people suffering from head lice or skin conditions like rosacea.

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