WEST CHESTER, Ohio — West Chester Hospital must continue to treat a Covid-19 patient with Ivermectin -- at least for now.
Closing statements for a hearing on the matter wrapped up on Friday.
Butler County Common Pleas Judge Michael Oster is now considering arguments from both sides before making a decision. Under an August 23 order from Judge Gregory Howard, West Chester Hospital must give Jeffrey Smith, who is on a ventilator, Ivermectin through at least Monday.
Oster did amend Howard's order on Friday, allowing physicians at West Chester Hospital to stop giving Smith the drug if a life-threatening side effect occurs.
On Thursday, Julie Smith, the wife of Jeffrey Smith, testified why she wanted her husband to receive the controversial treatment for COVID.
"It gave me hope that there was something we could try," she said. "I didn't want to just sit there and let him die."
West Chester Hospital officials, though, argued they should not be forced to treat Smith's husband with the medication.
"The plaintiff is not entitled to receive off-label medical treatment from a healthcare provider of her choosing. Nor is West Chester Hospital 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," said Charles Galvin, counsel for West Chester Hospital.
Ivermectin is an FDA-approved drug approved to treat infections caused by parasites. It is also commonly used as a live-stock de-wormer. It is not FDA-approved to treat COVID-19.
"Absolutely, positively you shouldn't take horse medication," said Ralph Lorigo, counsel for Smith in his counter-argument made before Judge Oster. "No one advocates that you go to Tractor Supply and get your Ivermectin; no one advocates that on my side. What they advocate is that you seek out a doctor that understands the situation. What we advocate is that there is a reasonable alternative."
Dr. Fred Wagshul prescribed the drug for Jeffrey Smith. Wagshul has practiced medicine for decades but does not work for West Chester Hospital. He is also is not board-certified.
Galvin argued that forcing the hospital to follow Wagshul's order does not serve the public good.
"It is not served by awarding extraordinary relief on the basis of a prescription filled out by a doctor that did not examine the patient, (and) admitted to knowing next to nothing about the patient's medical history before the prescription was filed," he said.
Galvin cited potential adverse side effects of the drug.
Smith's wife said her husband has improved since taking the drug, and her attorney said Smith deserved the right to try.
"Mr. Smith is dying," Lorigo said. "There is an alternative. An alternative that has been proven to help. And it's an alternative that the hospital doesn't want to look at because of their own policy."
Judge Oster's ruling could happen Friday night, over the weekend or into next week.