Public/Global Health

Arkansas inmates say they weren’t told they were treated for COVID-19 with ivermectin

Inmates at an Arkansas prison said they weren’t told that they were treated for COVID-19 with the drug Ivermectin, a known livestock de-wormer, according to The Associated Press.

In an interview with the newswire, three inmates at a Washington County, Ark., jail said they didn’t know they were given the anti-parasite drug as medication for the virus until last week. 

Inmate William Evans said that inmates felt that they were being tested as guinea pigs for the medication, saying he was given the drug two weeks after testing positive for coronavirus, the AP noted. 

“They were pretty much testing us in here is all they were doing, seeing if it would work,” Evans said. 

“I asked what are they, and they’d just tell me vitamins,” Inmate Edrick Floreal-Wooten told the AP.  “With me being sick and all of us being sick, we thought that they were there to help us. I never thought they would do something shady.”

The narratives from the inmates come after an increase in poisonings after using Ivermectin. Poison control centers have recorded a five-fold increase in calls related to ivermectin, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The drug has  been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use in humans in different doses for some conditions but is not a recommended treatment for COVID-19.

The news also comes as the U.S. endures another wave of COVID-19 infections brought on by the highly transmissible delta variant. Prisons in particular have been known to be hotbeds for the disease, considering that inmates live in close quarters indoors. 

The Arkansas American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) said that inmates are preparing to sue Washington County Sheriff Tim Helder for prescribing them the drug without their knowledge, the AP reported. 

“They have a right to know what they are being given,” Arkansas’ ACLU Executive Director Holly Dickson told the newswire. “This is not a right they forego by virtue of being locked up.”

Various associations including the American Medical Association (AMA), the American Pharmacists Association (APA) on Wednesday called for the immediate end of prescribing ivermectin as a COVID-19 treatment outside of clinical trials. 

The Hill has reached out to Washington County Sheriff Office for comment.

Tags American Civil Liberties Union Arkansas Ivermectin Washington County
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