Butler County judge rules against forcing hospital to administer ivermectin as COVID-19 treatment

BUTLER COUNTY — After two days of hearings, a Butler County judge has denied a wife’s request for a preliminary injunction that would force West Chester Hospital to administer ivermectin to her husband to help him recover from COVID-19.

The decision came Monday morning.

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“This court must determine whether a hospital, when requested by a patient, is obligated to administer a medication that is not an approved course of treatment,” Judge Michael A. Oster Jr. said in his decision. “Everyone involved wants Jeff Smith to get better. Simply stated, there are no bad actors in this case. Just the bad of a worldwide pandemic, COVID-19.”

Oster said his ruling is not making a decision on the effectiveness of ivermectin.

The legal question was whether an injunction should be granted “to force a hospital to honor the prescription of a doctor that has not seen a patient and has no privileges at said hospital thus forcing the hospital to give ivermectin to a patient when the hospital’s doctors, the FDA, CDC, and the AMA do not believe ivermectin should be a recommended way to treat COVID-19,” according to court records.

Ivermectin is a drug, approved by the FDA, to treat infections caused by parasites. The drug is commonly used as a livestock de-wormer.

According to the FDA, for humans, “ivermectin tablets are approved at very specific doses to treat some parasitic worms.” The FDA has not authorized or approved ivermectin as a treatment for COVID-19 and said it “has not been shown to be safe or effective.”

“As a judge, the present case invites allowing emotions to steer one towards judicial activism,” Oster said. “However, out legal system must stay firmly rooted in proper legal interpretation of the law, not what the individual judges think the law should be.”

Jeffrey Smith’s wife Julie Smith testified on Thursday and said she wanted her husband to be treated with the drug because it gave her hope.

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“I didn’t want to just sit there and let him die,” Julie Smith said in her testimony, according to WCPO.

Jeffrey Smith was prescribed the drug by Dr. Fred Wagshul, an instructor at Wright State University and pulmonologist in Centerville.

“The ivermectin that was prescribed is for human use, and is approved by the FDA to treat internal and external parasites,” court records read. “However, Dr. Wagshul prescribed the medication without having seen Jeff Smith and does not have privileges at West Chester Hospital.”

Charles Galvin, counsel for West Chester Hospital, argued that Smith was not “entitled to receive off label medical treatment from a healthcare provider of her choosing.” Additionally, Galvin said the hospital was not “obligated to provide a highly controversial medication that is discouraged by the FDA, CDC, AMA, and every credentialed, board certified, treating physician at the hospital,” WCPO reported.

Galvin previously argued that the order to continue with the treatment does not serve the public good and cited the potential harmful side effects.

Oster cited four reasons for his decision, including that the public interest would not be served by issuing the preliminary injunction.

“While this court is sympathetic to the Plaintiff and understands the idea of wanting to do anything to help her loved one, public policy should not and does not support allowing a physician to try ‘any’ type of treatment on human beings,” Oster wrote. “Rather, public policy supports the safe and effective development of medications and medical practices.”