Suit: Jail Gave Ivermectin Without Inmates' Knowledge

ACLU says Arkansas county was engaged in medical experimentation
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 17, 2022 6:03 PM CST
Unknowing Ill Inmates Were Given Ivermectin: Lawsuit
A syringe of of ivermectin—a drug prescribed to kill worms and other parasites—is displayed in September in Olympia, Wash.   (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

(Newser) – After four inmates in an Arkansas county jail tested positive for COVID-19 last August, they were told about their treatment regimen: some combination of vitamins, antibiotics, and steroids. But what they got was ivermectin, a lawsuit says. The FDA and Merck, the manufacturer, do not recommend prescribing the anti-parasitic drug in an effort to prevent or treat COVID-19, the Hill reports. But it's been used that way since at least November 2020 at Washington County Detention Center, says a lawsuit filed Wednesday by the American Civil Liberties Union of Arkansas.

The inmates were given large doses of ivermectin, the suit says, and suffered side effects such as vision issues, diarrhea, and stomach cramps. The jail's health care provider, Karas Correctional Health, has said no inmates were forced to take the drug, per NBC. They didn't realize their treatment was ivermectin until later, the suit says. The filing includes pharmacy records showing that Karas dispensed at least 200 ivermectin pills just in November 2020. Inmates were sometimes given 6 times the approved dosage. "No one—including incarcerated individuals—should be deceived and subject to medical experimentation," said Gary Sullivan, legal director of the ACLU of Arkansas.

Merck has said that most studies of ivermectin's possible effects on COVID-19 have a "concerning lack of safety data." Karas has reported that 254 inmates were treated with ivermectin "It was not consensual," one inmate said. "They used us as an experiment—like we're livestock," Another inmate whose records showed that, based on his height and weight, was given more than six times the approved dosage said he had diarrhea and upper abdominal pain. "I'm scared," he had told CBS News. "I can't trust any of the medical staff." The detention center "must be held accountable," Sullivan said. (Read more ivermectin stories.)

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