A state appeals court ruled that a Wisconsin hospital was not required to treat a COVID-19 patient with ivermectin after a family member received a prescription from an outside doctor.
The antiparasitic drug is used to treat malaria and other diseases, and some doctors saw it as a promising COVID treatment early in the pandemic. It rose to fame among conservative politicians and commentators, including US Senator Ron Johnson, R-Oshkosh, who promoted its use while attacking COVID-19 vaccines.
However, recent studies, including a large clinical trial with results published this month in the New England Journal of Medicine, have shown that the drug does not help reduce the risk of hospitalization for COVID-19 patients. The Federal Food and Drug Administration advises against using it as a COVID-19 treatment, and its widespread use as a home remedy for COVID-19 last year led to a spike in reported poisonings in Wisconsin.
Clinically effective therapies against the pandemic are now available. The FDA has approved two antiviral pills, Paxlovid and Remdesivir, which have been shown to help patients fight the disease.
The Court of Appeals case came before these powerful drugs were approved, but after data cast doubt on ivermectin’s effectiveness. John Zingsheim’s nephew, who was being treated for COVID-19 at Waukesha’s Aurora Health Center in September, urged Zingsheim to receive the drug and found a doctor to write a prescription for it while Zingsheim was hospitalized on a ventilator .
Nephew Allen Gahl said he looked online for alternative treatment for Zingsheim because he had lost “hope of[Zingsheim’s]survival,” according to court documents.
However, the hospital declined to administer the drug, citing medical evidence and the fact that the prescription was from a doctor who had never seen or examined the patient and “was not authorized to treat patients at Aurora.” Aurora’s position was that ivermectin would be “neither a safe nor an effective medical regimen” for Zingsheim.
The family sued the hospital and won a district court-level verdict in October. Aurora appealed and won a Court of Appeals ruling this week, finding, “There is no legal basis for the court’s order to compel a private health care provider to provide treatment that the provider, in its professional judgment, deemed below the.” standard of care.”
A panel of three judges issued the verdict, with one judge dissenting. The family can appeal the case to the state Supreme Court.
Zingsheim’s current state is not publicly available. In October, Aurora officials told a judge that the patient’s condition was improving under the hospital’s treatment plan.
The case is part of a broader movement of at least two dozen lawsuits in many states demanding patients’ right to use ivermectin over physicians’ judgment. And the Wisconsin case also has clear political valence. Johnson was among those who blown up a Supreme Court decision denying an October request by the family to bypass the Court of Appeals. And Karen Mueller, the attorney for Zingsheim’s nephew, is a Republican running for attorney general. Two key issues she’s addressing are the reversal of the 2020 presidential election result and the “investigation” of Wisconsin hospitals not treating COVID-19 patients with ivermectin.