One of the physicians behind the claim lauded the appeals court’s decision as a step against a “tyrannical” F.D.A. that had dared warn Americans away from an unproven–and apparently ineffective–treatment for COVID-19.
A federal appeals court has determined that a lawsuit challenging the Food and Drug Administration’s campaign against the use of ivermectin as a potential coronavirus treatment can proceed, despite a lower court having already dismissed the claim.
According to The Hill, the lawsuit was filed last year by three physicians, all of whom say that the F.D.A. overstepped its authority by aggressively condemning ivermectin as cure for COVID-19.
In their complaint, the doctors say that the F.D.A.’s actions were more akin to those taken by a medical body rather than a regulating agency.
While a district court ruled that the lawsuit could not proceed in its current form, the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit revived the claim on Friday, saying that the case must be reconsidered in lower court.
“F.D.A. is not a physician. It has authority to inform, announce, and apprise—but not to endorse, denounce, or advise,” U.S. Circuit Court Judge Don Willett wrote on behalf of the appeals panel. “The Doctors have plausibly alleged that F.D.A.’s Posts fell on the wrong side of the line between telling about and telling to.”
The Hill notes that the agency’s campaign included viral “signs” warning Americans that they are “not a horse,” emphasizing that ivermectin—an anti-parasite medication for horses that is only rarely prescribed for human use—should never be used to treat novel coronavirus.
“Although F.D.A. has approved ivermectin for certain uses in humans and animals, it has not authorized or approved ivermectin for use in preventing or treating COVID-19, nor has the agency stated that it is safe or effective for that use,” the F.D.A. said in its recommendations.
However, The Hill reports that some “fringe conservative circles” touted ivermectin as an apparent miracle cure” for COVID-19.
Some of these fringe theorists later died, or were hospitalized, from ivermectin-related side-effects.
Later peer-reviewed studies on the potential uses of ivermectin for coronavirus found that no significant evidence suggesting that the drug could improve patient outcomes.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, each of the three doctors involved in the lawsuit had promoted ivermectin amidst the coronavirus pandemic.
One of the three physicians was later suspended from a hospital, while another lost their job with a medical school.
“This case has broad implications for protecting the practice of medicine from unlawful interference by the F.D.A.,” attorney Jared Kelson said in a statement. “It’s about ensuring that federal agencies act only within their statutory authority. The F.D.A. crossed a bright line here.”
Mary Talley Bowen, one of the three plaintiffs, celebrated the ruling with a politically-charged statement suggesting that a public health campaign against an unproven an untested medication was, in fact, evidence of government “tyranny.”
“A small win, or at least a small step forward, in a monumental battle to protect the doctor-patient relationship from government tyranny,” she wrote on Twitter. “ONWARD!”