Ohio hospital ordered to treat COVID-19 patient with ivermectin despite FDA warning

An Ohio court has ordered a local hospital to treat a COVID-19 ICU patient with an anti-parasitic drug, despite warnings from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration saying the drug has not been authorized to treat COVID-19.

Judge Gregory Howard of the Butler County Common Pleas Court ordered West Chester Hospital to prescribe 51-year-old Jeffery Smith 30mg of ivermectin for 21 days while he is on a ventilator. 

According to court documents, Smith tested positive for COVID-19 on July 9. Days later, he was admitted into the hospital’s ICU unit after his oxygen saturation level dropped "dangerously low."

Doctors treated him with remdesivir— an antiviral drug— as well as plasma and steroids, according to court papers. However, his condition continued to decline. 

RELATED: CDC sees ‘rapid increase’ of severe illnesses from ivermectin use for COVID-19

Court documents revealed Smith’s wife and guardian, Julie, asked the hospital to prescribe ivermectin—believing it was the only option to keep her husband alive. The hospital refused. Julie then independently consulted and obtained a prescription from Dr. Fred Wagshul, a proponent of ivermectin use for COVID-19, but the hospital still refused. 

Howard didn’t explain in his judge’s order why he sided with the wife. 

"We are certainly pleased with the court’s decision to order the hospital to administer Ivermectin to Mr. Smith," Julie’s attorney Jonathan Davidson said in a statement to FOX Television Stations. "This was not something that was purchased off a shelf at a farm supply store. Mrs. Smith felt the hospital had given up on her husband and had exhausted its treatment efforts. Dr. Fred Wagshul wrote a prescription for Mr. Smith based upon his evaluation and determined there was little-to-no risk. Even if the odds were low that it may help, there is still a chance it works.. She did what any spouse would do in that situation and fought to give her husband a chance."

FOX Television Stations reached out to the hospital for comment.

Nevertheless, the order flies in the face of opposition from the FDA and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

RELATED: 'Stop it': FDA warns ivermectin is not a COVID-19 treatment drug

The FDA has approved ivermectin in both people and animals for some parasitic worms and for head lice and skin conditions. It has not approved its use in treating or preventing COVID-19 in humans. However, initial research is underway to see if the drug is effective in combating the coronavirus.

"You are not a horse. You are not a cow, Seriously, y’all. Stop it," the FDA tweeted on Aug. 21.

The CDC also said it’s seeing a "rapid increase" of severe illnesses as more people turn to ivermectin. Some symptoms associated with ivermectin toxicity are rash, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, neurological disorders and potentially severe hepatitis requiring hospitalization.

The CDC said in January 2021, poison control centers across the U.S. received a three-fold increase in the number of calls for human exposures to ivermectin compared to pre-pandemic levels. In July 2021, ivermectin calls rose to a five-fold increase compared to pre-pandemic levels.

The FDA reminded people that effective ways to limit the spread of the COVID-19 are to wear a mask, stay at least 6 feet from others who don’t live with you, wash hands frequently, and avoid crowds.

Health officials are also urgently asking people to get vaccinated. The U.S. gave full approval to Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine on Aug. 23, opening the way for more universities, companies and local governments to make vaccinations mandatory. Moderna has also applied to the FDA for full approval of its vaccine. Johnson & Johnson, maker of the third COVID-19 vaccine option in the U.S., said it hopes to do so later this year.

Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are approved for emergency use.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. This story was reported from Los Angeles.