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Arkansas medical officials investigating anti-parasite’s drug use inside state jail

New York Daily News logo New York Daily News 8/27/2021 Brandon Sapienza

Arkansas medical officials are investigating claims that inmates inside of a county jail were prescribed an anti-parasite drug as a remedy for COVID-19 despite the drug not having any approval to treat the coronavirus.

The medical officials, led by Board Director Amy Embry did not delve into the specifics of their investigation on Thursday. The investigation, which began on Tuesday, was the result of numerous complaints about the use of ivermectin at the Washington County Jail.

The Washington County Sheriff’s office confirmed to reporters that some inmates were in fact prescribed the drug, but declined to give a total number.

text: Ivermectin is used to treat parasites. © Provided by New York Daily News Ivermectin is used to treat parasites.

Ivermectin is used to treat parasites.

Investigators are also looking into if all of the inmates who were prescribed the drug had previously tested positive for COVID-19.

“There is an open investigation and we can’t comment on it right now,” Embry said.

The Food and Drug Administration has only approved ivermectin for use by people and animals for certain types of parasitic worms, head lice, and other skin conditions, ABC News reported. The regulator has not approved the drug to treat COVID-19.

“Using any treatment for COVID-19 that’s not approved or authorized by the FDA, unless part of a clinical trial, can cause serious harm,” the agency said in a warning about ivermectin.

Meanwhile the jail’s resident physician, Dr. Rob Karas, is seeking to avert the blame for the situation, saying that he did not force any inmates to take the drug.

“I do not have the luxury of conducting my own clinical trial or study and am not attempting to do so,” Karas wrote in a statement. “I am on the front line of trying to prevent death and serious illness.”

In a July 20 email, Karas recommended that sheriff’s staff take ivermectin as a preventive measure against COVID-19. He also said that he took the drug along with members of his family.

Prescriptions for the anti-parasitical drug have increased exponentially over the last two weeks with more than 88,000 prescriptions being filled. In relation to that, calls to poison control centers about ivermectin have also increased significantly with five times higher call volumes than normal.

In Arkansas and Mississippi, health officials this week warned members of the public to not take the veterinary form of the drug as a response to the dramatic rise in calls to poison control centers.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also warned doctors against ivermectin prescriptions being ordered to treat COVID-19, adding that no evidence supported the medicine being used for any other reason besides its manufactured intentions.

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