Patient lawyers turn to courts for ivermectin
NEW YORK – Rules on masks, vaccination warrants and business closures have all landed in court during the covid-19 outbreak, confronting judges with questions of science and government authority. Now they are being asked more and more to weigh in on ivermectin, a deworming drug.
At least 24 lawsuits have been filed in the United States, many in recent weeks, by people seeking to force hospitals to give their loved ones ivermectin, a parasite drug that has been promoted by conservative commentators as treatment despite a lack of conclusive evidence that it helps people with the virus.
Interest in the drug began to increase in late 2020 and early 2021, when studies – some withdrawn later – in other countries seemed to suggest that ivermectin had some potential and is has become a hot topic of conversation among conservatives on social media.
The lawsuits, including several filed by the same western New York lawyer, cover similar ground. Families have obtained prescriptions for ivermectin, but hospitals have refused to use it on loved ones, who are often on ventilators and risk death.
There has been a mixture of results in state courts. Some judges refused to order hospitals to give ivermectin. Others have ordered medical providers to donate the drug, despite fears it could be harmful.
In a September case on Staten Island, state Supreme Court Justice Ralph Porzio refused to order the use of ivermectin in a situation where a man sued a hospital on behalf of his ailing father , citing its unproven impact.
“This court will not require that a doctor be placed in a potentially unethical position in which he could commit medical malpractice by administering a drug for an unapproved and allegedly non-compliant purpose,” he said. he writes.
It’s amazing, said James Beck, a Philadelphia pharmaceutical and medical device liability attorney who has written about the influx of cases.
“I’ve never seen anything like it before,” Beck said.
In some cases, the original order to give the medicine was later canceled.
Hospitals backed down, saying their standards of care did not allow them to give patients a drug that has not been approved for covid-19 and could potentially cause harm, and that allow laypersons and judges to override health professionals is a dangerous road down.
“The way medicine works is that it’s the experts, the doctors and… the hospitals,” said Arthur Caplan, professor of bioethics at the Grossman School of Medicine at New York University. “When you go there, you don’t go to a restaurant. You don’t order your own care.”
“You can’t have a medical field subject to the need to practice according to patient demand backed by court orders. It’s positively horrible medicine,” Caplan said.
Ralph Lorigo does not see it that way.
The Buffalo, NY attorney filed his first of several ivermectin lawsuits in January after being approached by the family of an 80-year-old woman who was in hospital on a ventilator. Her second case was later that month for a 65-year-old hospitalized woman.
In both cases, judges ordered hospitals to give women ivermectin as their families wanted. Both women survived their hospitalizations.
Lorigo, who has taken on many cases since, is adamant that ivermectin works.
Health experts and federal agencies say any evidence for its effectiveness against covid-19 is slim and more research needs to be done. Studies are currently underway.
Ivermectin is approved by the Food and Drug Administration to treat infections of roundworms, lice, and other tiny parasites in humans. The FDA has attempted to debunk claims that animal versions of the drug may help fight covid-19, warning that taking it in large doses can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, delirium and even death.
Lorigo said his customers had not researched these kinds of doses, only versions of the drug designed for humans.
Regarding doctors refusing to treat patients with ivermectin, Lorigo said, “They are not gods because they wear white vests.… I challenge their position.”
As for the hospital administrators, “it’s like they alone rule the roost, they alone make a decision in their hospital. I don’t accept that as a rule of law for us.”
Legal battles over drugs have taken place as courts have also looked into issues such as whether employers or states can order workers to be vaccinated against the virus, which has killed more than 700,000 people in the United States.
Beck, the drug liability advocate, said doctors have the power to prescribe ivermectin to treat covid-19, even though it has not been approved by the FDA for the disease, though. they think it has therapeutic value – one so – canceled the use of the label.
“I have never seen a case before where the judge has been asked to force someone to engage in off-label use,” he said.
Lorigo said he has received more inquiries from families about drugs over the past 10 weeks and now has four lawyers working on these cases, two of whom he recently hired. .