4 Arkansas inmates are suing a jail and its doctor, claiming they were given ivermectin for COVID-19 without their consent

·3 min read
ivermectin
Four inmates areSoumyabrata Roy/NurPhoto via Getty Images
  • Four inmates in Arkansas are suing a jail and its doctor for giving them ivermectin without consent.

  • The men allege they were told they were being given vitamins and antibiotics when in actuality it was ivermectin.

  • Ivermectin is not approved for treating or preventing COVID-19 in humans.

Four inmates have sued a Fayetteville, Arkansas, correctional facility and the doctor attached to it for giving them ivermectin, a controversial and unproven drug not approved for treating COVID-19.

The lawsuit was filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Arkansas on behalf of inmates Edrick Floreal-Wooten, Jeremiah Little, Julio Gonzales, and Dayman Blackburn, against the Washington County Detention Center, Tim Helder, the county's sheriff, and Dr. Robert Karas, a physician at Karas Correctional Health.

According to the lawsuit, the four were given a "cocktail of drugs" twice a day, which included two to 10 pills, consisting of "high doses" of vitamins and ivermectin. The lawsuit further alleges that inmates were told that the drugs were vitamins, antibiotics, and steroids.

"The truth, however, was that without knowing and voluntary consent, plaintiffs ingested incredibly high doses of a drug that credible medical professionals, the FDA, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, all agree is not an effective treatment against COVID-19 and that if given in large doses is dangerous for humans," read the lawsuit.

The lawsuit also alleges that the four inmates experienced various side effects after taking the ivermectin, including vision issues, diarrhea, bloody stools, and stomach cramps.

Speaking to the media in September, Floreal-Wooten said that he and the other inmates were running fevers and throwing up. They only found out that they were taking ivermectin pills when news broke that Karas, the jail doctor, prescribed the anti-parasitic drug to inmates.

"We never knew that they were running experiments on us, giving us ivermectin. We never knew that," Floreal-Wooten told CBS News.

Karas revealed in a letter sent in September that 254 inmates were treated with ivermectin, per the Associated Press. The state medical board is currently probing Karas after the inmates lodged complaints against him.

The US Food and Drug Administration approved ivermectin for treating parasitic worms and head lice, but the drug is not approved for treating and preventing COVID-19. There is also no data to conclusively support the use of ivermectin to reduce disease and death from COVID-19. In its other forms, ivermectin is also used as a livestock-deworming drug.

Some users of ivermectin have also complained of the drug's dangerous effects, including blurry vision, diarrhea, and pooping out what they believed were "worms," Insider's Andrea Michelson and Madison Hall reported.

The FDA in August urged people not to self-medicate with ivermectin because it is intended for horses and other livestock, tweeting: "You are not a horse. You are not a cow. Seriously, y'all. Stop it."

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