Arkansas doctor under investigation for prescribing ivermectin thousands of times to Covid-19 despite FDA warning

The FDA has been warning against the use of ivermectin to treat Covid-19 since March. The drug is used to treat parasitic infections, primarily in domestic animals, and the CDC recently warned of an increase in reports to poison centers for serious illness caused by the drug.

Justice of the Peace Eva Madison raised the issue during a county budget hearing in Fayetteville on Tuesday, saying a county official had told her the prison doctor is prescribing ivermectin for the treatment and prevention of Covid-19.

The county official – who does not work for the sheriff’s department – was sent to jail to receive a Covid-19 test, Madison told CNN. During the visit, he was prescribed ivermectin, which the Arkansas Department of Health also advises not to use to treat or prevent Covid-19.

“He is very afraid of retaliation from the county, and therefore he asked me to raise this issue on his behalf,” Madison said.

“To my great surprise, he (the sheriff) defended the use. He defended the practice,” Madison said. The sheriff offered to put Madison in touch with the medical provider. Screenshots of the text exchange with the sheriff from Madison confirm her account.

Dr. Robert Karas provides medical services to the Washington County Jail. He has been that contract provider since 2015, according to Madison.

Madison said Karas defended her use of the drug during a phone call and again in a subsequent TV interview after the exercise emerged. Karas told the television station KFSM that he started prescribing the drug in October last year and has subsequently given it to family members and “thousands” of others. The doctor also recorded the station’s interview with his own camera and posted it online.

“Do you want us to try to fight as if we were on the beaches of Normandy? Or do you want me to tell you what many people do and say – oh, go home and ride it out and go to the emergency room when your lips turn blue, “Karas said.

Karas said he started using ivermectin in the prison population from November on “high-risk patients over 40.” The doctor defended his practice, saying no deaths due to Covid-19 have been reported out of the 531 cases in jail.

CNN called the Washington County Sheriff’s Office to confirm the number of Covid-19 patients being treated in prison and was referred back to Karas as he is contracted to provide medical services. Calls to the doctor’s office have not been returned.

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The Arkansas Medical Board has launched an investigation into the case, Meg Mirivel, a spokeswoman for the Arkansas Department of Health, told CNN. Due to the ongoing investigation, the department could not comment further.

The sheriff’s department declined to comment further or provide further information on emergency care.

The sheriff’s office defended the practice for the local newspaper, saying all treatment is “voluntary”.

“They are able to refuse any medication they are offered. Even with the vaccine, it’s all voluntary,” Deputy Chief Jay Cantrell told the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

“I believe it is the constitutional duty of the county and the sheriff to provide the detainees with adequate and appropriate medical care.” Madison told CNN.

“No one – including incarcerated people – should be subjected to medical experimentation,” Holly Dickson, executive director of the ACLU in Arkansas, said in a statement, adding that the sheriff “has a responsibility to provide food, shelter and safe, appropriate care. to imprisoned people. “

In a CDC health report released Thursday, the agency said the use of ivermectin can result in “gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Overdoses are associated with hypotension and neurological effects such as impaired consciousness, confusion, hallucinations, seizures, coma.” dead. “

CNN’s Jen Christensen and Travis Caldwell contributed to this report.

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