The Arkansas State Medical Board is investigating a doctor who used ivermectin to treat his patients, as well as inmates at Washington County Jail suffering from Covid-19.
The board said on Friday it had opened an investigation into Dr Robert Karas, owner of Karas Health Care, which has facilities in Fayetteville and Lowell and provides medical services to prison inmates.
“Once the investigation is complete, the information will be provided to the full board for review and discussion at the next scheduled board meeting,” said board director Amy Embry. , in a press release. “No additional information is available at the moment. “
Karas declined to be interviewed on Friday due to his schedule, but said in an emailed statement that he started using the drug in late 2020 to treat patients and inmates “who had become seriously ill. because of Covid ”.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration have warned against using ivermectin to treat or prevent Covid. On Thursday, the CDC said there had been an increase in calls to poison control centers for reports of overdoses after people took the drug.
The FDA on Saturday urged people to stop taking it. He said that while the FDA-approved ivermectin tablets can treat certain conditions caused by parasitic worms in humans, the drug is not an approved drug for the coronavirus. Generally, ivermectin is used to treat or prevent parasites in animals.
“You are not a horse. You are not a cow. Seriously, all of you. Stop, ” the FDA tweeted, as well as a consumer update on why the drug may be harmful to humans.
Karas said he was aware of the FDA and CDC warnings.
“In my medical judgment, balancing the known risks and the side effect profile of ivermectin against the potential benefits supports the administration of ivermectin,” he said in the statement. . “I don’t have the luxury of doing my own clinical trial or study and I’m not trying to do it. I am on the front lines in trying to prevent death and serious illness.
“I am proud of our track record at both of my clinics and at the prison in particular, where not one of the 500+ patients who have followed our care plan has been hospitalized, intubated or died. “
Karas said he obtained the drug from a licensed pharmacist in doses and compounds “formulated for humans”.
He said he encourages people to get vaccinated against the virus and advises against self-administration of ivermectin.
“I have no interest in a pharmacy and do not derive any benefit from prescribing ivermectin,” he said. “I have no ambitions or agenda other than treating the sick. “
He did not answer questions about the state medical commission’s investigation.
The Washington County Sheriff’s Office did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Friday. Sheriff Tim Helder recently defended Karas, saying he felt “pretty good” about the quality of the doctor’s care.
“Whatever a doctor prescribes is not under my bailiwick,” he told members of the Washington County Quorum Court, the county’s governing body.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Arkansas criticized the sheriff and said the prison failed to provide “safe and proper treatment” to inmates.
“No one – including those in prison – should be subjected to medical experimentation,” Executive Director Holly Dickson said in a statement. “Sheriff Helder is responsible for providing safe and appropriate food, shelter and care for those in prison. The FDA has said that misuse of ivermectin for COVID-19 can cause serious damage, including seizures, comas, and even death. “
The union said it asked Helder and Karas for records regarding detainees and Covid precautions and care.