A doctor in Arkansas is under investigation after prescribing the anti-parasite drug ivermectin to incarcerated individuals with COVID-19.
According to CBS News, the doctor said detainees at the Washington County jail took the drug willingly, but many of them say they did not know what it was.
Edrick Floreal-Wooten is incarcerated at the facility. After testing positive for COVID-19 in August, he said he and other detainees went to what is known as “pill call” to receive medication. “They said they were vitamins, steroids and antibiotics,” the 29-year-old said. “We were running fevers, throwing up, diarrhea … and so we figured that they were here to help us. We never knew that they were running experiments on us, giving us ivermectin.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a health advisory about ivermectin after it began selling out at veterinary stores. The FDA-approved drug can treat multiple conditions in humans, including river blindness and lice, and is generally safe to use. Despite this, the National Institutes of Health ruled there is “insufficient data” to recommend the drug for prevention and treatment of COVID-19.
Floreal-Wooten said he and other detainees found out it was ivermectin because of news reports about the physician Dr. Rob Karas. “And from that point forward … they finally gave us the consent if we would like to take the pill or not,” he said. “It was not consensual. They used us as an experiment like we’re livestock,” he said. William Evans, who is also incarcerated at the facility, told the Associated Press, “They were pretty much testing us in here is all they were doing, seeing if it would work.”
The American Civil Liberties Union of Arkansas has requested the records relating to Karas and the jail’s medical facility. Holly Dickson, the group’s executive director, issued the following statement:
“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. The FDA has said that misuse of ivermectin for COVID-19 can cause serious harm, including seizures, comas and even death. The detention center’s failure to use safe and appropriate treatments for COVID-19, in conjunction with Sheriff Helder’s request to use COVID-19 relief money to expand the jail, illustrates the larger systemic problem of mistreatment of detainees and over-incarceration in Arkansas that has persisted-even in the midst of a pandemic.”
Dr. Karas maintains that the detainees were not forced to take the drug, but he is now under investigation by the state’s medical board.
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