Authorities are investigating the case where an Arkansas doctor from Washington County allegedly used ivermectin on coronavirus-infected jail inmates to treat them.
The state's medical board is responsible for handling the case after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has specifically warned against the use of the parasite drug against COVID-19. Details of the investigation will not be revealed to the public and will be provided to the full Board review at the next scheduled meeting after completion, Amby Embry, the director of the Arkansas State Medical Board, said.
Parasite Drug Ivermectin
The issue was raised by Eva Madison, a county elected official, during a Tuesday finance and budget committee meeting. Jail officials, including the physician who is now under investigation, were presenting their budget for 2022. The suspect, identified as Dr. Rob Karas, requested a 10% increase to their medical services contract.
Madison told committee members and jail officials that a county employee, who wished to remain anonymous, said she was told to get tested for COVID-19 at the jail. They said they later tested negative and were immediately given a $76 prescription for ivermectin, CBS News reported.
The employee was concerned and later asked his primary care physician about the prescription, who told him to "throw that in the trash." During the meeting, Madison noted that the employee had the good fortune of having a physician that he could go to and ask for a second opinion but said the inmates did not have that luxury.
Madison argued that the sheriff defended the use of the parasite drug on COVID-19 patients, even offering to put her in contact with the medical provider. She showed screenshots of the conversation to confirm her statements.
Karas has been the medical provider to the Washington County jail since 2015 and defended his use of ivermectin during a phone conversation. He said he began prescribing the drug last October and has also given it to family members and thousands of other patients, CNN reported.
Potential Side Effects
The medical practitioner said he began giving the parasite drug in November to high-risk patients over 40 years old. Karas defended his decision by saying no patient has died due to COVID-19 out of the 531 cases inside the prison.
The Arkansas Medical Board ordered an investigation into the case, Meg Mirivel, a spokesperson for the Arkansas Department of Health, revealed. The department was not able to comment further about the issue due to the ongoing investigation.
The FDA previously urged against the use of ivermectin to treat coronavirus patients due to its potential to cause serious harm. The drug has many possible side effects, including skin rash, nausea, and vomiting. In a Twitter post, the agency said, "You are not a horse. You are not a cow. Seriously, y'all. Stop it."
On Thursday, the CDC also cautioned doctors about the trend of the use of the parasite drug on COVID-19 patients. The agency cited an increase in reports to poison centers of severe illness caused by people self-prescribing with the parasite drug, USA Today reported.