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Arkansas Inmates Claim They Were Unknowingly Given Ivermectin to Treat COVID-19

— February 2, 2022

The inmates were told they were being given “vitamins” or “steroids,” rather than an unproven and unsafe treatment for novel coronavirus.

Inmates at a Northwest Arkansas jail have filed a lawsuit against Washington County officials, claiming medical staff gave them anti-parasite drug ivermectin to treat positive cases of novel coronavirus.

According to CBS News, the lawsuit alleges that detainees were not informed they were being given ivermectin. Instead, Washington County Detention Center’s medical staff told them they were taking “vitamins.”

While there is no compelling evidence to suggest that ivermectin can treat COVID-19, the drug—sometimes used as a horse de-wormer—was touted as a potential miracle cure by some Americans.

However, the federal Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have repeatedly warned against the consumption of ivermectin, which they say humans should only take to treat river blindness, intestinal strongyloidiasis, head lice, and rosacea.

Image via Pexels/Pixabay. (CCA-BY-0.0)

Nevertheless, the lawsuit states that Washington County inmates were given ivermectin as early as November 2020; the detainees were not told they were being an unauthorized coronavirus treatment.

CBS News notes that one inmate, 30-year-old Edrick Floreal-Wooten, said he had been told the pills were, alternately, “vitamins,” “antibiotics,” or “steroids.”

“They said they were vitamins, steroids and antibiotics,” he told CBS News. “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.”

The lawsuit alleges that, unknown to themselves, detainees were consuming large and potentially unsafe quantities of ivermectin.

“The truth […] was that without knowing and voluntary consent, Plaintiffs ingested incredibly high doses of a drug that credible medical professionals, the FDA, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, all agree is not an effective treatment against COVID-19,” said the lawsuit, which was filed on behalf of inmates by the American Civil Liberties Union.

Now, past and present detainees at Washington County Detention Center are asking that a court order mandatory medical evaluations as well as “costs, fees, and any appropriate relief to which they are entitled.”

Gary Sullivan, legal director of the ACLU in Arkansas, said that “no one—including incarcerated individuals—should be deceived and subject to medical experimentation.”

“[Washington County Sheriff Tim Helder] has a responsibility to provide food, shelter, and safe, appropriate care to incarcerated individuals,” Sullivan said. “The detention center failed to use safe and appropriate treatments for COVID-19, even in the midst of a pandemic, and they must be held accountable.”


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