An Ohio judge has ruled that a local 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.
The ruling comes after Julie Smith of suburban Cincinnati asked in Butler County Common Pleas Court on Aug. 20 for an emergency order for the use of Ivermectin for her husband Jeffrey Smith, 51. Jeffery Smith came down with COVID-19 in early July and has been in the intensive care unit of a Butler County hospital for weeks.
Judge Gregory Howard initially gave the go-ahead on Aug. 23 to Dr. Fred Wagshul’s prescription of 30 milligrams of Ivermectin daily for three weeks, as requested by his wife.
Julie Smith explored Ivermectin as an option for her husband’s treatment on her own and connected with Wagshul. He prescribed the drug, and the hospital had refused to administer it.
“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,” Judge Oster wrote in his ruling this week.
The judge said it is “impossible not to feel sympathetic” for Julie Smith, who is the guardian for her husband.
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 needed to maintain the injunction.
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.
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.
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 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.
“At UC Health, we respect the expertise of our clinicians and appreciate the scientific rigor used to develop treatments, medications and other therapies,” Martin said. “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.”