BUTLER COUNTY, Ohio (KXAN) — A COVID-19 patient whose wife sued an Ohio hospital to force the facility to treat her husband with the anti-parasite drug Ivermectin has died.
Fifty-one-year-old Jeffrey Smith died Sept. 25 after a monthslong coronavirus battle in the ICU, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports. Smith’s story made headlines back in August, when a judge in Butler County, Ohio, ruled in favor of Smith’s wife Julie Smith, who demanded the hospital give her husband ivermectin.
The Ohio Capital-Journal reported Judge Gregory Howard ordered West Chester Hospital to give Smith 30 milligrams of Ivermectin every day for three weeks. Ivermectin, which can be oral or topical, is not FDA approved for the treatment of COVID-19 in humans. A large study out of Egypt that proponents of the unproven drug pointed to has been retracted.
While Ivermectin is approved for humans to treat certain skin conditions (rosacea) and certain external parasites like head lice, the FDA warns human ivermectin is different than the one used in animals. Animal-specific concentrations, like those that may be available at livestock stores, are intended for large animals like horses and elephants, and these doses can be treacherous for humans
In her lawsuit, Julie Smith claimed she offered to sign documents releasing all other parties, doctors, and the hospital from all liability related to the dosage. But the hospital declined. Smith said her husband, who was on a ventilator, had a very slim chance of survival and she was willing to try anything to keep him alive.
Another Butler County judge reversed Howard’s decision in September, saying Ivermectin didn’t show “convincing evidence” in treating COVID-19. Butler County Judge Michael Oster said in his ruling, “judges are not doctors or nurses… public policy should not and does not support allowing a physician to try ‘any’ type of treatment on human beings.”
Oster explained: “Even [Smith’s] own doctor could not say [that] continued use of Ivermectin would benefit him… After considering all of the evidence presented in this case, there can be no doubt that the medical and scientific communities do not support the use of Ivermectin as a treatment for COVID-19.”
Nevertheless, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports, Julie Smith told Judge Oster she believed the drug was working.
Despite these warnings, false claims of the drug’s effectiveness have proliferated on Facebook, with one such post showing a box of the drug clearly labeled “for oral use in horses only.”
Studies on Ivermectin as COVID-19 treatment do exist, but right now that data is overwhelmingly considered inconsistent, questionable, and/or inconclusive.
A July review of 14 Ivermectin studies concluded these studies were small and “few are considered high quality.” The researchers say they’re uncertain about the efficacy and safety of the drug and that “reliable evidence” doesn’t support using Ivermectin for COVID-19 treatment outside of well-designed randomized trials.
Meanwhile, an oft-cited Australian study found Ivermectin killed the virus, but several scientists have since explained humans most likely aren’t capable of ingesting or processing the amounts of Ivermectin used during the experiment.
Use of human-intended Ivermectin should only be taken if prescribed by a doctor for an FDA-approved use. Regardless of the usage and prescription, the FDA warns ivermectin overdose is still possible. Interaction with other medications is also a possibility.
The CDC urges and reminds Americans that the currently available COVID-19 vaccines: Pfizer (now fully FDA-approved), Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson are safe and effective, it says. Booster shots are currently underway. While vaccines do not ensure you won’t become infected with COVID-19, they have significant real-world data confirming they prevent severe illness and hospitalization.