No, court shouldn’t order ivermectin to treat COVID-19, AMA says

The American Medical Association has filed a brief in a case before the Wisconsin Supreme Court. At issue: whether a hospital should be required to use ivermectin, even as leading health experts advise against it.

Medical groups are urging the Wisconsin Supreme Court to reject a lawsuit that would require a hospital to provide ivermectin to treat COVID-19.

The American Medical Association opposes the idea of a court order forcing a hospital to use ivermectin as a treatment for COVID-19. The AMA and the Wisconsin Medical Society have filed an amicus brief this week to state their opposition to the suit.

Medical experts say ivermectin isn’t an effective treatment for COVID-19, a fact the groups cite in their amicus brief.

As the AMA and WisMed stated in the brief, “The overwhelming majority of studies investigating ivermectin have not found it to be an effective COVID-19 treatment."

“The few dissenting studies that exist have ‘substantially evaporated under close scrutiny’ and even ivermectin’s manufacturer ‘do[es] not believe that the data available support the safety and efficacy of ivermectin’ for preventing or treating COVID-19. Thus, the consensus view of reasonable medical providers is that, apart from clinical trials, ivermectin should not be administered to treat COVID-19.”

A family member sought to have a Wisconsin hospital, Aurora Health Care in Waukesha, administer ivermectin to a relative who was a patient in September 2021. The hospital refused, and the family member filed a lawsuit, which has worked its way through the Wisconsin court system.

A lower court ruled in favor of the plaintiff last fall, but a Wisconsin state appeals court sided with the hospital in May 2022, Wisconsin Public Radio reports.

The Wisconsin Supreme Court said in September it would hear the case.

Ivermectin is a drug used to treat parasites in animals and, in some cases, to treat parasitic worms in humans in specific doses, according to the Food and Drug Administration.

The FDA does not recommend using ivermectin for the treatment of COVID-19 and has not authorized it in treatment of the virus. The FDA notes some people have required treatment after giving themselves ivermectin intended for livestock.

The National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the World Health Organization also advise against treating COVID-19 with ivermectin, except in clinical trials, as the AMA noted.

Ivermectin overdoses can lead to nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, and in severe cases, seizures, coma and death, the CDC says.

The AMA and Wisconsin Medical Society urged the court to understand that ivermectin is not recognized as part of the standard of care in COVID-19 treatment.

“The standard of care in Wisconsin does not require physicians to provide treatment that available medical evidence suggests will not benefit patients and may harm them,” the medical groups noted in the brief.

While leading health experts and federal officials have advised against using ivermectin to treat COVID-19, some continue to tout the drug even in the face of medical evidence.

U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, a Wisconsin Republican, is among those who have promoted the use of ivermectin. Some conservative media commentators have amplified those claims, and Joe Rogan, the comedian who hosts an enormously popular podcast, has touted the merits of ivermectin and said he used the drug when he had COVID-19 last year.

The AMA and Wisconsin Medical Society contend that compelling doctors or hospitals to prescribe ivermectin for COVID-19 conflicts with their ethical obligations.

“Even if compelled by a court and requested by a patient, ethical breaches, Iike providing substandard care, expose physicians to possible administrative sanction for ‘unprofessional conduct,’ including license revocation, and civil liability,” the groups stated.

Wisconsin isn’t the only state where legal battles have been waged over the use of ivermectin.

The Pennsylvania Superior Court ruled in September that a lower court erred in requiring UPMC Harrisburg Hospital to give ivermectin to a 74-year-old man who was severely ill with COVID-19, PennLive reported.

In September 2021, an Ohio judge overturned a lower court ruling that required a hospital to employ ivermectin to treat COVID-19, as The New York Times reported.