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Arkansas prisoners sue jail after allegedly receiving ivermectin to treat COVID-19 without their consent

Dimas Ardian/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Four inmates held at a jail in northwest Arkansas have sued the facility and its medical staff, claiming they were prescribed the controversial antiparasitic drug ivermectin to treat COVID-19 without their knowledge.

The inmates, represented by the American Civil Liberties Union of Arkansas, said they believed they were being treated for COVID-19 with a regimen of "vitamins," "antibiotics," and "steroids" after coming down with the virus in August.

But in a lawsuit filed last week, the inmates claimed medical staff at the Washington County Detention Center had actually administered an unknown dose of ivermectin to them over a period of days and possibly weeks.

"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," the lawsuit states.

The defendants in the suit are listed as the Washington County jail, Washington County Sheriff Tim Helder, and Dr. Robert Karas of the jail's health provider, Karas Correctional Health.

According to the Associated Press, Karas acknowledged that the jail had been administering ivermectin to treat COVID-19 since November 2020, and that as of September 2021 more than 250 inmates at the jail had been given the drug. But he responded to the lawsuit by claiming no inmates have been administered the drug without their consent.

The ACLU insisted in their complaint that such is not the case.

"No one — including incarcerated individuals — should be deceived and subject to medical experimentation. Sheriff Helder has a responsibility to provide food, shelter, and safe, appropriate care to incarcerated individuals," Gary Sullivan, legal director of the ACLU of Arkansas, said in a statement.

He added, "The Federal Food and Drug Administration has said that misuse of Ivermectin for COVID-19 can cause serious harm including seizures, comas, and even death. The detention center failed to use safe and appropriate treatments for COVID-19, even in the midst of a pandemic, and they must be held accountable."

Ivermectin, a Nobel Prize-winning drug used to treat parasites in animals as well as humans, has become the subject of intense controversy in recent months. While some medical professionals — and media personalities like Joe Rogan — have touted it as an effective treatment for COVID-19, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has not approved it for that use.

Mainstream media networks like CNN have likewise taken it upon themselves to slander the drug, falsely claiming that it is nothing more than a "horse dewormer."

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