In the age of anti-vaxxers soiling the interwebs with their pseudointellectual, straight from the prestigious University of “Look At My YouTube,” diatribes regarding government agendas, microchips, and ahistorical comparisons to the Tuskegee experiments, the last thing we need is for reports to come out about jail inmates complaining that they were administered an experimental and unproven COVID-19 treatment without their knowing consent—and yet here we are.
An Arkansas doctor is under investigation for prescribing an anti-parasite drug called Ivermectin—which is typically used on animals—to inmates at the state’s Washington County jail, several of whom told CBS News they were given the drug without their knowledge.
If you’ve never heard of Ivermectin, it’s a drug that has been hailed or at least defended as a possible treatment for COVID-19 by right-wing know-nothings like conspiracy nutjob Alex Jones, professional Donald Trump butt-sniffer Rand Paul and anti-vaxxers across the nation who are suddenly not so wary about experimental, non-FDA-approved medical treatments. (It’s almost as if their objection to vaccines is more about politics than it is about science. Shocker.)
Anyway, according to CBS, Dr. Rob Karas has been under investigation since news broke that he’d been prescribing and administering Ivermectin to inmates, and nurses at the jail started asking those inmates if they gave their consent. A number of them said they didn’t.
“They said they were vitamins, steroids, and antibiotics,” Edrick Floreal-Wooten, a Black inmate at the jail, said. “We were running fevers, throwing up, diarrhea…and so we figured that they were here to help us. We never knew that they were running experiments on us, giving us ivermectin. We never knew that.”
“It was not consensual,” he continued. “They used us as an experiment like we’re livestock. Just because we wear stripes and we make a few mistakes in life, doesn’t make us less of a human. We got families, we got loved ones out there that love us.”
Floreal-Wooten said he and other inmates weren’t aware of what they were taking until five days after they were given the pills, and the only reason they found out then was because of news reports on Karas.
“And from that point forward, they finally gave us the consent if we would like to take the pill or not,” he said, adding that about 20 other inmates refused the drug after that.
Two other inmates at the jail shared similar stories with the Associated Press.
According to Insider, Karas defended his use of Ivermectin citing “in-vitro and controlled studies as well as a significant amount of anecdotal evidence,” that he claims indicates the drug is effective in treating COVID-19.
“In late 2020, we began what I consider compassionate use of Ivermectin as part of a comprehensive plan of care for both clinic and jail patients who had become significantly sick from COVID,” Karas wrote. “In my medical judgment, weighing the known risks and side effect profile of Ivermectin against the potential benefits supports the administration of Ivermectin (which we obtained from a licensed pharmacist in dosages and compounds formulated for humans) to COVID-19 patients.”
For the record, not only has the drug not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration as a COVID treatment, but the FDA has explicitly warned against it being used as a treatment.
It’s also worth noting that nowhere in Karas’ statement did he address accusations that he was administering the drug to inmates without their consent.
So yeah, not all “medical judgment” is good medical judgment, and people who are already wary about the vaccine and the possibility of being experimented on certainly won’t be convinced otherwise as long as there actually are medical professionals out there vindicating their fears.