Arkansas Detention Center Treated COVID-19 Patients With Ivermectin, Lawsuit Filed by Detained Men Claims

Federal health authorities warn that Ivermectin is not a safe nor suitable treatment for COVID-19 in humans.

The Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have issued several statements saying ivermectin is not safe to use to treat against COVID-19. 

Four men detained at the Washington County Detention Center in Arkansas who said they were given ivermectin to treat COVID-19 have now filed a federal lawsuit against the detention center, sheriff and doctor. 

In the lawsuit, obtained by Inside Edition Digital, the men say they were given what they were told were “'vitamins,' 'antibiotics,' and/or 'steroids'” to treat COVID-19 last year but they claim they were really given the anti-parasite drug ivermectin without their consent.

Under Arkansas law, medical providers have a legal obligation to warn patients of potential hazards of future medical treatment, according to the lawsuit.

The Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have issued several statements saying ivermectin is not safe to use to treat against COVID-19

"Certain animal formulations of ivermectin such as pour-on, injectable, paste, and 'drench,' are approved in the U.S. to treat or prevent parasites in animals. For humans, ivermectin tablets are approved at very specific doses to treat some parasitic worms, and there are topical (on the skin) formulations for head lice and skin conditions like rosacea," the FDA said

But after testing positive for COVID-19 in August 2021, the four men were given the drug, according to their lawsuit. 

"Plaintiffs tested positive for COVID in late August 2021. As a result, the County Defendants relocated Plaintiffs to a barracks that was specifically designated as a quarantine block for those with the disease or those with a close contact to the same,": the lawsuit says. "Upon information and belief, during this time twenty-two detained peoples were housed in the quarantine block. Once in the quarantine block, Plaintiffs were given a cocktail of drugs by Karas Defendants to allegedly treat COVID-19. The drugs were administered twice a day, and ranged in volume between 2-10 pills. The drugs consisted of high doses of vitamins and the drug Ivermectin."

One of the men was given 3.4 times the approved dosage of ivermectin recommended to combat worms, while one of the other men was given nearly 6.3 times the approved dosage recommended when used appropriately, according to the suit.

The men suffered side effects "consistent with the overuse of ivermectin," including "vision issues, diarrhea, bloody stools, and/or stomach cramps," the suit said. They also "experienced mental distress, anger, and lingering mistrust of

Defendants for permitting the use of, and administering, a drug in disregard of a FDA warning and without their knowledge or consent," the suit said. 

Had they known what they were being given, or were made aware of the potential side effects, the men would have refused to take it, the suit alleges. 

"To add insult to injury, Plaintiffs were subject to the payment of fees for medical examinations they sought after suffering side effects from the Ivermectin treatment. Pursuant to the contract between KCH and the County Defendants, those fees are payable to KCH, providing financial incentive to Dr. Karas as the sole member of KCH," the suit said. 

The lawsuit filed last week names the Washington County Detention Center its staff, Washington County Sheriff Tim Helder, Karas Correctional Health, its staff and Dr. Robert Karas as defendants.

Helder in August said that ivermectin had been prescribed to inmates to treat their coronavirus cases, ABC News reported. He said he only learned after the fact that ivermectin was used in the jail, but that he wouldn't second-guess or override the decisions of medical staff, The Northwest Arkansas Democrat Gazette reported.

In a statement from the Washington County Sheriff's Office, a spokesperson said in an email to Inside Edition Digital on behalf of Helder that "The Washington County Sheriff’s Office is unable to comment on pending litigation."

Dr. Karas not responded to Inside Edition Digital's request for comment. 

Previously, Karas said no inmates were forced to take the drug, according to ABC News. Karas has said he began giving ivermectin at the detention center in November 2020, ABC News reported.

The Arkansas Medical Board has been investigating complaints against Karas over the Washington County Detention Center's use of ivermectin and is expected to discuss the investigation at a February meeting, ABC News reported.

In a letter sent by his attorney in September, Karas told a Medical Board investigator that 254 inmates at the jail had been treated with ivermectin, according to ABC News.

Dr. Karas said in a letter obtained by ABC News that who administered the ivermectin determined how much information was given to the detainees being treated. Paramedics had not been given “required counseling details" to discuss the drug with detainees, the letter said. The process had since been improved, according to Dr. Karas.

“Since the inception of the media coverage, we adopted a more robust informed consent form to assuage any concern that any detainees were being misled or coerced into taking the medications, even though they weren't," the letter said.

In the lawsuit, the four men are asking that they receive a medical evaluation by an independent provider and be "awarded their costs, fees, and any other appropriate relief to which they are entitled."

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