News10NBC Investigates: Families suing local hospitals to administer Ivermectin to dying COVID patients
ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — Families desperate to try and save their loved ones who are dying from COVID-19 have begun suing local hospitals that refuse to administer Ivermectin, a controversial drug not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat COVID-19.
A judge ordered Rochester General Hospital on Friday to give a COVID-19 patient the experimental treatment as a last-ditch effort to save his life. It comes after the man’s daughter filed a lawsuit against the hospital to use the drug in an attempt to save her father.
Jeremy L. Carter, 75, was fully vaccinated when he tested positive for COVID-19 on Aug. 28. Less than a week later, he was admitted to Rochester General Hospital where doctors started COVID-19 treatment which included Remdesivir and Dexamethasone.
Unfortunately, the treatments did not work and his health continued to deteriorate.
On Sept. 20, after exhausting all COVID-19 treatments, Carter was transferred to ICU and placed on a ventilator. Carter’s daughter, Jill Alvarado started researching other alternative treatments. She found the drug Ivermectin, which is typically used to treat certain infections caused by parasitic worms, head lice, and skin conditions.
Alvarado spoke with Carter’s Primary Care provider who wrote him a prescription for Ivermectin but the hospital refused to administer it. Ivermectin has not been approved by the FDA to treat or prevent COVID-19 in humans or animals, however it has been given to some COVID-19 patients.
Recently, Ivermectin was prescribed to an 80-year-old woman in Buffalo who was in a similar situation. Within 48 hours after the first dose, she was transferred out of ICU and taken off a ventilator.
“Every case I have is a person in a hospital dying… what is the harm if a hospital is done with its protocol?” questioned Ralph Lorigo, the Western New York Attorney behind dozens of lawsuits that have been filed against health systems across the country over the last few months.
Carter’s suit is the third that Lorigo has filed against Rochester Regional Health to get them to administer Ivermectin.
“Each of those times we were successful and those people went home. In this situation we sued, we got a court order and the hospital refused to administer the Ivermectin,” Lorigo told News10NBC.
Rochester Regional Health filed an appeal on Saturday, a hearing was scheduled for Monday morning but Jeremy Carter died on Sunday.
Rochester Regional Health denied News10NBC’s requests for an interview/comment on these lawsuits.
Dr. Thomas Russo is the Chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases at the Jacobs School of Medicine at the University at Buffalo.
“Some studies have been done and to date, none of those studies have shown that Ivermectin benefits patients with COVID,” he told News10NBC, “there are still some ongoing studies but at this time we do not recommend it to use, it’s not recommended by the FDA, it’s not recommended by the infectious disease side of America.”
According to the FDA, clinical trials assessing Ivermectin tablets for the prevention or treatment of COVID-19 in people are ongoing.
“We all know that the off-label use of drugs occurs 20%-40% of the time so I’ve asked these ICU doctors if there’s an off-label drug that you believed in, that would help your patient, would you prescribe it for them? The answer generally is yes—well, this is no different than that, there’s an off-label use of a medication that’s been approved for 35 years by the FDA,” Lorigo argued.
Dr. Russo said it’s not that simple.
“Anecdotal reports in medicine are really of little value, they may form the basis for us to do larger controlled studies but such single cases or even a handful of cases that aren’t controlled really don’t inform us of whether the drug worked or not or if it was due to other factors or other treatments that were being administered at that time or the natural history of the disease,” Dr. Russo said.
In Carter’s case, Rochester Regional filed a notice of appeal.
“I think what they’re going to do at this point is they’re going to dig their heels in and they’re going to fight all the harder, that’s what I think they’re going to do,” Lorigo said, “to me, the issue is much broader, it’s the hospital’s refusal to look at an alternative medication even though they’ve completed their full protocol, even though they’re done all their active treatment of the patient.”
In all of his cases, Lorigo says his clients are willing to sign a release and waiver, relinquishing the hospital of any liability.
In August, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) sent out a warning to the public and physicians regarding severe illness associated with the use of products containing Ivermectin to prevent or treat COVID-19. The CDC said adverse effects associated with Ivermectin misuse and overdose are increasing, as shown by a rise in calls to poison control centers reporting overdoses and more people experiencing adverse effects.