During the COVID-19 outbreak, mask rules, vaccination requirements and business closures hit the courts, posing science and government questions to judges. Now they are increasingly being asked to weigh the anthelmintic drug ivermectin.
At least two dozen lawsuits have been filed in the U.S., many in recent weeks, by people trying to get hospitals to give their COVID patients to loved ones ivermectin, a parasite drug that conservative commentators have promoted as a treatment despite its absence. irrefutable evidence that it helps people with the virus.
Interest in the drug began to grow towards the end of last year and towards the beginning of this, when research – some of which was later discontinued in other countries – showed that ivermectin had some potential, and it became a hot topic of conversation among conservatives on social media. …
The lawsuits, some of which were filed by the same western New York lawyer, relate to similar grounds. Families received prescriptions for ivermectin, but hospitals have refused to use it on their loved ones, who are often on mechanical ventilation and are on the verge of death.
There have been mixed results in state courts. Some judges refused to order hospitals to prescribe ivermectin. Others have ordered medical workers to administer the medication, despite fears it could be harmful.
In a September Staten Island case, State Supreme Court Justice Ralph Porzio refused to order the use of ivermectin in a situation where a man sued a hospital on behalf of his ailing father, citing unsubstantiated impact.
“This court will not require any physician to be placed in a potentially unethical position where he could commit medical malpractice by prescribing a drug for an unapproved, allegedly misused purpose,” he wrote.
“This is amazing,” said James Beck, a Philadelphia attorney specializing in drug and medical device product liability, and has written of a large number of such cases. “I’ve never seen anything like it before.”
In some cases, the initial order to prescribe the drug is subsequently canceled.
Hospitals backed down, saying their standards of care did not allow them to give patients a drug that was not approved for COVID and could potentially cause harm, and that allowing laymen and judges to reject healthcare providers is a dangerous path. way down.
“Medicine works like this: they are experts, doctors and … hospitals,” said Arthur Kaplan, professor of bioethics at New York University’s Grossman School of Medicine. “When you go there, you do not go to a restaurant. You are not ordering your own treatments. “
“You cannot have a field of medicine that requires practice in accordance with the requirements of the patients, backed up by court orders. This is definitely a terrible drug, ”Kaplan said.
Ralph Lorigo doesn’t think so. A lawyer from Buffalo, New York, filed his first of several lawsuits over ivermectin in January after he was approached by the family of an 80-year-old woman who was in hospital on mechanical ventilation. His second case occurred later that month with a 65-year-old woman hospitalized.
In both cases, the judges ordered the hospitals to give the women ivermectin as requested by their families. Both women survived hospitalization.
Lorigo, who has been involved in many cases since then, is adamant that ivermectin works. Health experts and federal agencies say there is little evidence of its effectiveness against COVID-19 and more research is needed. Research is currently underway.
Ivermectin is approved by the Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of infections caused by roundworms, lice, and other tiny parasites in humans. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has tried to refute claims that animal drugs can help fight COVID-19, warning that high doses can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, delirium and even death.
Lorigo said his clients were not looking for such doses, but only versions of drugs intended for humans.
Regarding doctors refusing to treat patients with ivermectin, Lorigo said, “They are not gods because they wear white jackets,” he said. “I disagree with their position.”
As for the hospital administrators, “it’s like they are the only ones who rule everything, only they make decisions in their hospital. I do not accept this as a rule of law for us. “
Litigation over the drug has taken place as courts have also grappled with issues such as whether employers or governments can require workers to be vaccinated against the virus that has killed more than 700,000 people in the United States.
Beck, a drug liability lawyer, said doctors have the right to prescribe ivermectin to treat COVID, even if it has not been approved by the FDA for treating the disease, if they believe it has therapeutic value – a so-called “shutdown.” use label.
“I had never seen before this case where a judge was asked to force someone to be misused,” he said.
Lorigo said he has received more inquiries from families about the drug in the past 10 weeks, and there are now four lawyers working on those cases, including two he recently hired.