Following Norfolk doctor's lead, other COVID-19 patients taking hospitals to court to get access to ivermectin

Posted at 5:16 PM, Nov 12, 2021

NORFOLK, Va. - We broke the story this week - a Norfolk doctor is suing Sentara Healthcare because they will not allow him to treat COVID-19 patients with ivermectin. But the News 3 I-Team learned he's not the only one taking hospitals to court over the controversial treatment.

In an exclusive interview with us, Dr. Paul Marik says he's suing Sentara because they are forcing him to withhold what he believes is a potentially life-saving drug from his COVID-19 patients.

We've learned some COVID-19 patients and their families are taking other hospitals to court to get access to the drug.

That includes Ohio COVID patient Jeffery Smith. Smith was hospitalized with the virus and was placed on a ventilator at West Chester Hospital.

His wife reached out to a doctor outside the hospital who prescribed ivermectin, but the hospital staff wouldn't give it to the patient.

So, Smith’s wife sued, and a judge agreed to force the hospital's hand.

Smith received ivermectin for two weeks, but another judge stepped and reversed the decision.

Smith eventually died on September 25.

That's far from the only case, according to the American Bar Association. Judges across the country appear to be split - some siding with hospitals’ protocols, and others siding with patients who want to give ivermectin a try.

That's what Marik says is the aim of his lawsuit against Sentara. Marik claims in the lawsuit that Sentara's policy may have led to the deaths of four of his patients who were never given the opportunity to learn of or be treated with potentially life-saving medicines.

In his lawsuit, he said Sentara issued a directive to doctors last month banning the use of including ivermectin to treat COVID-19 patients unless they were part of a clinical trial.

“It was a memo sent throughout the healthcare system that was really directed personally at me to prevent me from prescribing these medications that I, as the treating physician, wanted to use,” he told us.

Marik's support of ivermectin was the subject of News 3 anchor Jessica Larché’s investigation in September.

Marik and his international group of doctors point to a list of smaller studies that suggest the drug is safe and effective at treating COVID-19.

But other doctors say there needs to be more data for bigger clinical trials.

There are some of those big trials underway right now, but early data doesn't show promise for ivermectin.

In a statement sent to us Thursday, Sentara Healthcare said they follow guidance of agencies like the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) - all of which currently do not recommend the use of ivermectin as a treatment for COVID-19.

You can read Sentara's full statement below:

"Sentara Healthcare is consistently ranked among the top hospitals in the nation for quality and patient safety, and follows evidence-based protocols to treat COVID-19 as recommended by trusted agencies including the CDC, NIH and FDA. All of these agencies currently do not recommend the use of ivermectin as a treatment for COVID-19 due to a lack of evidence regarding its safety and efficacy. Sentara generates treatment guidelines by engaging multi-disciplinary groups of clinicians to review literature, care standards and provide expert advice. In most situations, physicians are able to deviate from guidelines to individualize care for patients. However, in some scenarios, treatments that may potentially harm patients or that are widely considered to be outside the standard of care may be limited.

To that end, COVID-19 treatment guidelines at Sentara have been consistently communicated to all medical staff throughout the pandemic using usual channels. The most recent guidelines generated by the multi-disciplinary group of clinicians did include, but were not limited to, guidance on the use of ivermectin. All members of the medical staff receive the same guidelines.

Of note, on Tuesday, November 9, prior to when we were informed about Dr. Marik’s lawsuit, the Journal of Intensive Care Medicine’s (JICM) editorial board retracted a recent article that Dr. Marik co-authored on the MATH+ protocol, in which ivermectin is used. Sentara Healthcare felt obligated to reach out to JICM with our concerns about Sentara Norfolk General Hospital data that the authors used to make conclusions, and provide accurate data to the Journal. After thorough review by JICM’s editorial board, the article was retracted. The Journal followed their retraction guidelines and procedures.

Sentara Healthcare is currently studying this lawsuit and offers no further comment on it at this time."
Sentara Healthcare

Other hospitals in our area, like Patient First do allow doctors to treat patients with ivermectin.

Riverside Regional did allow their doctors to prescribe ivermectin to COVID-19 patients, but changed their policy two months ago "due to a lack of evidence."

We'll keep you updated as Marik's case heads to court.

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