Arkansas County Praises Doctor Who Gave Inmates Ivermectin

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) — A northwest Arkansas county issued a resolution praising the doctor at its jail who faces a lawsuit from inmates who say they were unknowingly prescribed ivermectin to treat COVID-19, despite warnings from health officials about the anti-parasitic drug.

The Washington County Quorum Court voted 9-4 Thursday night in favor of the resolution praising Dr. Robert Karas for his work treating inmates with COVID-19 at the county jail. The panel also rejected, by a 10-4 vote, a separate resolution supporting the principle of informed consent for medical treatments.

The nonbinding resolutions don’t mention the lawsuit filed by inmates last month against Karas and Washington County Sheriff Tim Helder. The inmates said they weren’t told they were being given ivermectin to treat COVID-19, and said instead were told they were being given vitamins, antibiotics or steroids. Attorneys for Karas and the county have asked a judge to dismiss the lawsuit.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has not approved ivermectin to treat or prevent COVID-19 in humans. It has approved its use by people and animals for some parasitic worms, head lice and skin conditions. According to the FDA, side effects for the drug include skin rash, nausea and vomiting.

The American Medical Association, the American Pharmacists Association and the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists last year called to an immediate end to prescribing and using the drug to treat the coronavirus.

Karas is scheduled to appear in April before the state Medical Board, which has been investigating complaints against him over the drug’s use at the jail. Karas has said he began giving inmates ivermectin in November 2020. He told a Medical Board investigator that 254 inmates were treated with the drug.

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