Inmates at an Arkansas prison were given ivermectin without their knowledge or consent, according to a new lawsuit. As early as November 2020, Dr. Robert Karas, the prison doctor, told inmates who had contracted COVID that he was giving them a cocktail of vitamins, antibiotics and steroids when in fact he was giving them doses. dangerously high amounts of dewormer. Ivermectin is not cleared by the FDA to treat or prevent COVID, and the agency has repeatedly told people not to take it outside of its approved use as an antiparasitic.
“At no time were the plaintiffs informed that the medications they were consuming included ivermectin,” the lawsuit states. “Furthermore, the plaintiffs were not told of the side effects of the drug they were given or that the results would be used for research purposes.”
Four inmates are suing Dr. Karas and his company, the Washington County Sheriff, as well as the Washington County Detention Center and 10 of its employees, alleging they violated inmates’ rights to informed consent. The ACLU of Arkansas filed the trial on their behalf. The plaintiffs seek medical evaluations by independent providers and an injunction preventing Dr. Karas from administering ivermectin to COVID patients.
“No one, including incarcerated people, should be deceived and subjected to medical experiments. Sheriff Helder has a responsibility to provide safe and appropriate food, shelter and care to incarcerated people,” Gary Sullivan, Chief Legal Officer from the ACLU of Arkansas, noted in a report.
Lack of informed consent
The four men who complained say that if they had been told what they were being given and told about its side effects, they would have refused to take it.
“It is both customary and legally required in all medical settings, both in Arkansas and beyond, that patients receive complete, accurate, and truthful information to enable them to make an informed decision about treatment. ‘opportunity to proceed with medical treatment,’ the lawsuit said. “As healthcare providers, [Dr. Karas and his colleagues] knew it without a doubt.
At least two of the inmates were given incredibly high doses of the drug, according to the lawsuit. For use as an antiparasitic drug, the FDA has approved 0.2 mg per kilogram of body weight in a single oral dose. If necessary, the second doses are only given 3 to 12 months after the first. A 72 kg prisoner, however, received 48 mg over four days, 3.4 times the approved dose. Another, who weighed 87 kg, received 108 mg over four days, 6.3 times the approved dose.
As a result, these men suffered from diarrhea, bloody stools, stomach cramps and vision problems, the lawsuit says, suggesting ivermectin poisoning. “To add insult to injury, the plaintiffs were made subject to payment of fees for the medical examinations they requested after suffering side effects from ivermectin treatment.”
As the pandemic took hold, Dr. Karas began “publicly and privately embracing the virtues” of ivermectin, according to the lawsuit, and “began to conduct research into its efficacy” against the COVID. He has publicly published articles on the “virtues” of ivermectin, including detailed dosing as part of his “COVID protocols”. In a Facebook post, posted on December 24, 2021, he said he dosed prison inmates more than those in his private practice. Karas’ “protocols”, which he says he used with his family members, have caught the attention of the Arkansas Medical Board, which has launched an investigation.
For providing medical services to the prison, Dr. Karas’ company, Karas Correctional Health, of which he is the sole member, receives $1.4 million a year. Additionally, his contract allows him to purchase drugs in bulk and sell them to the prison, which is “obligated to pay the costs of all prescription drugs prescribed to WCDC inmates,” the lawsuit states.
The ivermectin problem is not limited to prisons, of course. People all over the world have clung to the idea that deworming can both prevent COVID infection and fight it. Early in the pandemic, a Petri dish study suggested the drug might have some antiviral qualities, but at doses that were 100 times higher than what had been approved in humans. Fringe members of the medical community have pushed the false narrative, and some politicians continue to do so.
Widespread abuse of the drug has led to spikes in demand and, according to one new study in the Journal of the American Medical Association, an increase in insurance reimbursements too. Despite the fact that they should be incentivized not to cover ineffective treatments, private health insurers spend about $130 million a year, the study authors estimate.
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