- Inmates at the Washington County jail claim ivermectin was ‘tested’ on them
- The toxic horse deworming drug was prescribed to them by Dr. Rob Karas
- They said they didn’t know they were prescribed the toxic horse deworming drug until its use at the facility was revealed last week
- The American Civil Liberties Union of Arkansas said it has also heard similar complaints from inmates
- ACLU has demanded Sheriff Tim Helder to respond to its inquiries by Thursday
- The ACLU has asked if the sheriff has ordered Karas and his staff to cease administering ivermectin for COVID-19
- The ACLU said some inmates are prepared to file a lawsuit to halt the drug from being prescribed
Several inmates at a northwest Arkansas jail said they weren’t told a medication they were given to treat COVID-19 was actually an anti-parasite drug that federal health officials have warned should not be used to treat the coronavirus.
Three inmates at the Washington County jail claim ivermectin was ‘tested’ on them and that they didn’t know they were prescribed the toxic horse deworming drug until its use at the facility was revealed last week.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Arkansas said it has also heard similar complaints from inmates after the use of the drug was revealed during a meeting of the Washington County quorum court, the county’s governing body.
The ACLU has demanded that Sheriff Tim Helder respond to its inquiries by Thursday asking whether he has instructed or will instruct Dr. Rob Karas and his staff to cease administering ivermectin for COVID-19.
In the letter, the ACLU said some inmates are prepared to file a lawsuit to halt the drug from being prescribed. The group said it was ‘unconscionable’ that inmates weren’t informed they were being given the drug.
According to the ACLU, which has called on the jail to stop prescribing the drug, several inmates claimed they were told the drug was vitamins or steroids.
‘They were pretty much testing us in here is all they were doing, seeing if it would work,’ said William Evans, an inmate who said he was given the drug for two weeks after he tested positive for COVID-19.
Edrick Floreal-Wooten, another inmate, said he was given ivermectin at the jail after he tested positive on August 21.
‘I asked what are they, and they’d just tell me vitamins,’ Floreal-Wooten said. ‘With me being sick and all of us being sick, we thought that they were there to help us. I never thought they would do something shady.’
Floreal-Wooten said he refused to take the drug last week after seeing a news article about ivermectin being prescribed to inmates.
When asked whether he would have taken the drug had they told him at the outset it was ivermectin, he responded: ‘Never. I’m not livestock. I’m a human.’
The inmates’ comments contradict assertions by the sheriff and the jail’s physician that the use of the drug was voluntary. The drug’s use at the jail has prompted an investigation by the state Medical Board.
DailyMail.com has reached out to Sheriff Helder and Dr. Karas for more information and additional comment about the use of the drug in the jail.
Karas, who has faced calls to resign his post, released a lengthy statement last week defending the use of ivermectin – saying he had been prescribing the drug to inmates and patients at his clinics since late last year.
‘Patients at Washington County Detention Center are never forced to take medicines and routinely refuse medications which is their right,’ Karas wrote on Facebook last week.
In another post on Facebook on Tuesday, Karas noted his clinic had two patients die and six patients the clinic has treated in different stages in the hospital – with four of them on ventilators.
Holly Dickson, Executive Director of ACLU of Arkansas, said inmates ‘have a right to know what they are being give.’
‘This is not a right they forego by virtue of being locked up,’ she said.
Dickson noted in a statement Sheriff Hedler has requested to use COVID-19 relief money to expand the jail, illustrating ‘the larger systemic problem of mistreatment of detainees and over incarceration in Arkansas that has persisted.’
‘No one – including incarcerated individuals – should be subject to medical experimentation. Sheriff Helder has a responsibility to provide food, shelter and safe, appropriate care to incarcerated people,’ Dickson said.
Pharmacy prescriptions for ivermectin jumped nationwide this summer, and health officials in Arkansas and other states have warned against its use to treat COVID-19 after spikes in poison control center calls about people taking the animal form of it.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last week sent an alert about the trend to doctors. The CDC said there is not good evidence that ivermectin is effective at preventing or treating COVID-19, and that the government has not authorized it to be used against the coronavirus.
‘In July 2021, ivermectin calls have continued to sharply increase, to a five-fold increase from baseline. These reports are also associated with increased frequency of adverse effects and emergency department/hospital visits,’ the CDC wrote.
The CDC noted that the clinical effects of ivermectin overdose include nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea – as well as hypotension and neurologic effects such as decreased consciousness, confusion, hallucinations, seizures, coma, and death.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved ivermectin for use by people and animals for some parasitic worms and for head lice and skin conditions. The FDA has not approved its use in treating or preventing COVID-19 in humans.
The drug’s manufacturer, Merck, said in February that it had found no evidence that ivermectin is an effective treatment for patients with COVID-19.
The American Medical Association, the American Pharmacists Association and the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists on Wednesday called for an immediate end to prescribing the drug to treat the coronavirus outside clinical trials.
Republican lawmakers in Arkansas and other states have touted the drug as a potential treatment for COVID-19, despite the warnings against its use.
Dr. Jose Romero, Arkansas’ secretary of health, wouldn’t say whether he thought it was appropriate for the jail’s inmates to be prescribed ivermectin but said using any drug off-label would require an agreement between the physician and the patient.
‘I don’t know what agreement has been made,’ Romero told reporters at a news conference this week.
Romero said the state health department doesn’t endorse its use for COVID-19.