Igniting one of the fiercest controversies of the pandemic in recent months, a wave of lawsuits have been filed in courtrooms across the country, as guardians of critically ill Covid-19 patients seek court orders to have their hospitalized loved treated with ivermectin.
Dozens of lawsuits are pending in a wide array of states, 14 of them in New York, AP reports, including hospitals in the cities of Rochester, Poughkeepsie and Monroe. Attorneys have won lawsuits of this nature in New York, Louisiana, Texas, Mississippi and Ohio.
But as families demand the right to try a medication that has been used successfully in dozens of countries, hospital administrations are relentlessly pushing back, citing the advice of the CDC and FDA not to use ivermectin for Covid.
In a typical scenario, precious minutes tick by with a critically ill patient deteriorating on a ventilator as oral arguments fly back and forth in court hearings, while the frantic family awaits a judge’s ruling that may spell life or death.
The phenomenon of so many lawsuits demanding ivermectin for hospitalized patients has taken the debate about the drug to new levels, with critics saying the court challenges threaten to hijack hospitals’ medical authority, and must be resisted.
“Hospitals are not restaurants,” one hospital administrator protested. “We can’t have patients coming in and ordering whatever treatment they desire.”
Advocates of the legal avenue for families desperate to save their loved one disagree. They argue that the courts are the very last recourse available to them. When all else has failed, they say, and hospitals admit they have nothing more to offer, a patient has the fundamental right to try anything that offers even the slimmest hope of survival.
That right has been enshrined in The Right to Try Act, signed into law in May 2018 by then President Donald Trump. The law opens a new pathway for terminally ill patients who have exhausted their medical options. Although 41 states have passed their own Right to Try laws, the federal legislation makes Right to Try the law of the land, creating a uniform legal framework for terminal patients seeking access to non-conventional treatments.
To be eligible for Right to Try, a patient must be diagnosed with a life-threatening disease or condition; have exhausted approved treatment options; be unable to participate in a clinical trial involving the drug; and give written informed consent regarding the risks associated with taking it.
The string of lawsuits, many of them brought by New York attorney Ralph Lorigo, often cite this law in their briefs, in addition to incisive medical information testifying to the efficacy and safety of ivermectin, drawn from a host of studies worldwide.
Attorneys arguing the cases on behalf of Covid patients often turn to the FLCCC (Front Line Covid-19 Critical Care Alliance) for medical advice, court papers show.
The group’s physicians and scientists include widely published leaders in the field of pulmonology, cardiology and critical care medicine. They advocate various treatment protocols for both early preventive treatment, and for late stage Covid ICU patients that include ivermectin in combination with other drugs as core components. They also treat “long Covid,” the lingering symptoms of chest pains, shortness of breath, fatigue, brain fog that plague some recovered Covid patients long after recovery.
Lorigo has successfully filed two similar cases in Illinois, once against a Chicago hospital and two more in upstate New York. Two of his Covid clients could not breathe on their own, their vitals were dangerously fluctuating, and they were given a 20-30 percent chance of survival.
One of these cases concerned an 80-year-old woman, Judith Smentkiewicz, who was hospitalized on a ventilator. A second life and death drama, the same month, concerned a 65-year-old woman in similar straits. In both cases, judges ordered hospitals to heed the families’ requests and administer ivermectin.
To the astonishment of their doctors, both women rallied while being treated, and after a period of recovery, were able to return home.
The Buffalo News carried these two sensational stories around the time they occurred and Lorigo was soon inundated with inquiries from across the country, even from overseas, he noted in an AP interview. He has taken on so many cases—close to a hundred, he said, in 25 states—that he had to hire four attorneys to assist him.
“Every day I get somewhere between 80 and 150 emails and requests for information and help. We freely give whatever we can. I talk to people on a regular basis and show other lawyers the kind of court papers we filed. I’ve been here seven days a week for the last seven weeks without a day off, trying to get people the information that they so desperately need,” Lorigo said.
He noted his cases were the result of “legitimate disputes” between hospitals, doctors and families, but has found that hospitals tend to be “arrogant”. “They only stick to their protocols,” he said. “It’s like they think they’re gods. They wear white coats, but they’re not god.”
Lorigo described the lawsuits as an effort to provide Covid-19 patients “the possibility of survival” after hospital approved treatments have been exhausted. Another motivation, he added, is to give “the family the comfort they did every possible thing to try to save their loved one.”
The lawsuits are unfolding amid a politically charged furor over ivermectin, with the drug’s supporters extolling its potent anti-viral properties in all stages of Covid, including mild, moderate and acute. They say ivermectin has the capacity, along with other drugs, to crush Covid as well as all variants.
Critics mock these assertions, quoting the FDA and CDC that ivermectin is not approved for Covid treatment, and falsely identifying it as an “animal medication.”
A chorus of criticism has been directed at pharmaceutical companies and regulatory agencies, accusing them of delaying the drug’s approval in the United States—despite its use in other counties such as India, Peru, Columbia, Czechoslovakia, India and Mexico. Critics say this is purely for financial gain, to eliminate competition before the rollout of new costly anti-virals on the part of pharmaceutical giants.
Lorigo said that after poring over 60 international clinical studies on ivermectin, he became convinced that the drug works and is safe. Based on the positive results it has had in so many other countries, he believes the drug should be widely deployed for severely ill Covid-19 patients in the United States as well.
His court battles took on a personal tone for him, he said, after his own son-in-law and two grandsons fell sick with Covid. “With our prayers and with the help of Dr. Pierre Kory, FLCCC and ivermetin, they recovered,” Lorigo said. “Others should have the same chance.”
The attorney has also had his share of painful defeats in battling the courts for ivermectin, including the recent case of Jeff Smith of Cincinnati.
Smith tested positive for Covid-19, was hospitalized and admitted to the intensive care unit July 15, reports Desert Review, in a summary of the case. He was put on the hospital’s Covid-19 protocol consisting of the antiviral drug, Remdesivir, along with plasma and steroids—the near universal treatment of Covid in U. S. hospitals.
On July 27, Smith’s condition began to decline, and he was then sedated and intubated, and placed on a ventilator. Jeff’s wife, Julie Smith, casting about for a miracle to save her husband, discovered the existence of ivermectin on her own.
She connected with Dr. Fred Wagshul, a Dayton, Ohio pulmonary specialist, head of Lung Center of America, who in addition to office visits with patients, counsels hundreds of callers a day in tele-health consultations.
Dr. Wagshal is also one of the founders of FLCCC, who reports having treated over 2,000 Covid patients with ivermectin, with a remarkable record of no hospitalizations or visits to the ER.
In an interview, Dr. Wagshul recounted that after a lengthy conversation with Mrs. Smith, he reviewed her husband’s medical records and medical history and prescribed the drug, but the hospital refused to administer it.
Devastated, Julie hired an attorney, Ralph Lorigo and his team, who sued the hospital. By then it was August and her husband was “at death’s doorstep,” she wrote in an affidavit filed with the lawsuit. “His chances of survival have dropped to less than 30%,” she wrote. “He has no other options.”
Judge Gregory Howard ordered the hospital, West Chester, to honor the family’s request to treat Jeff Smith with Ivermectin. He approved Dr. Fred Wagshul’s prescription of Ivermectin, 30 mg daily, for three weeks.
Over the next thirteen days, as Smith faithfully received the Ivermectin, he began to take slow steps toward recovery, said Dr. Wagshul, according to Desert Review. “They were planning to begin weaning him off the ventilator,” related Lorigo, who was daily appraised of Smith’s progress.
And then, on day 13 of the treatment, a shocking thing happened. An appellate judge, Michael Oster, sided with the hospital’s appeal of the earlier court order, and ruled that the hospital could take Smith off the ivermectin. They promptly did so, over the pleas and protests of Smith’s wife, family and Dr. Wagshul.
Ten days later, Smith died.
“This is a man who had been helped by the medication, and this is a judge who just didn’t get it right,” Lorigo said sadly.
“I will never understand why any hospital would refuse to try this drug on a patient that had zero to lose,” lamented Dr. Wagshul in an essay he posted online. “Regardless of what the media may say, I know this medicine, as part of a multi-modal protocol that also includes vaccines, saves lives,” he said.
In an interview with Ohio Capital Journal, Wagshul said the science behind Ivermectin’s use in COVID-19 patients is “irrefutable.”
“It is one of the world’s safest medicines. It is inexpensive and globally available. Dozens of peer-reviewed, scientific studies show that it is efficacious for every stage of COVID-19 disease,” Wagshul said.
Hospital ‘Broke Its Promise’ to Administer Ivermectin
In another life and death Covid lawsuit drama, this one involving a 47-year-old patient clinging to life while her attorney sought a court order to force the hospital to give her ivemectin, the hospital was accused of breaking a promise to the woman’s husband.
Attorney Jake Huxtable said hospital officials had agreed to give Tamara Drock the drug but negotiations broke down over the dosage of Ivermectin she should receive, he told Circuit Judge James Nutt during a hearing.
“We were under the impression she was going to get her first dose yesterday,” Huxtable said. “My client has the freedom of choice,” he said of Drock’s husband, Ryan, who has legal guardianship of Tamara. “He has the right to give his wife any last chance to live, including this drug, Ivermectin. And time is running out.”
Both husband and wife had contracted Covid. Ryan recovered with the help of ivermectin, he told USA Today, but Tamara was admitted to Palm Beach Gardens Medical Center and moved to the hospital’s Intensive Care Unit, where she was placed on high flow oxygen.
Court records say doctors treated her through the hospital’s Covid-19 protocol, which includes remdesivir, steroids and antibiotics. However, on Sept. 20, her condition worsened, and she was sedated, intubated, and placed on a ventilator.
After no sign of improvement, Ryan Drock requested that his wife be treated with ivermectin, but health officials refused. Court records show he offered to sign a waiver so that the hospital would not be held liable if the treatment didn’t work or caused other problems, but hospital authorities still declined.
“My wife is dying, she has no other option,” Ryan pleaded. According to his account, he was asked to sign a confidentiality agreement, promising to not tell anyone that the hospital would give his wife ivermectin.
Once he did so, hospital officials refused to give her a meaningful dose of the medication, Drock’s lawyer told Judge James Nutt.
In a statement, Ryan Drock said he was “appalled and disgusted” by the hospital’s actions. “So now, I am left with no choice but to go through the court system. This hospital should be ashamed of itself.”
Drock also accused the hospital of thwarting efforts to be served formally with court papers, further delaying his wife’s chances of getting a correct dosage of the medication.
Broward Hospitals Use Ivermectin to Battle Covid-19
Huxtable argued that other hospitals in South Florida, including those run by Broward Health, are using Ivermectin to help patients battle Covid-19.
He cited a 2020 study of 280 patients at Broward Health’s four hospitals. It found fewer COVID-19 patients died after being treated with Ivermectin. The drug was particularly potent in patients with “severe pulmonary involvement,” noted researchers, among them Dr. Jean-Jaques Rajter, whom Yated interviewed several weeks ago on this same topic.
[Dr. Rajter agreed that ivermectin is a remarkably efficacious drug, particularly beneficial in patients with severe respiratory complications.]
“Severe pulmonary involvement is precisely what Mrs. Drock has,” Huxtable told Nutt, noting his client would be an excellent candidate for the drug.
The Florida Supreme Court devised a procedure so families of terminally ill patients have the right to have expedited hearings to decide whether life-sustaining measures are justified. But Judge Nutt seemed reluctant to get involved in the case.
He indicated he might schedule a hearing “over the weekend” to delve into the specifics of the case, not seeming to grasp that every passing hour intensified the patient’s crisis.
“This woman is on her deathbed,” Huxtable protested. “She flatlined a couple of days ago and they revived her. But the hospital is out of options.”
Drock’s attorney tried to persuade Nutt to hold the hospital to its previous promise to administer the drug. He said he wanted the judge to order the hospital to give Tamara a higher dose, the amount recommended by physicians who use ivermectin to treat Covid.
But the judge resisted, saying he wasn’t sure a judge should make a decision that requires medical expertise.
As the nightmare continued to unfold, Attorney Isaac Ruiz-Carus, who represents the medical center, drove the stake deeper by submitting a statement from a Palm Beach Gardens hospital pharmacist, saying he would refuse to fill a prescription for ivermectin because the FDA “hasn’t authorized its use for treating Covid-19 patients.”
Huxtable countered that an emergency room physician along with others at the hospital agreed to prescribe the drug to Tamara. A pharmacy is available that would fill the prescription, he added.
Ryan Drock “isn’t asking for his wife to be treated with an illicit drug, such as heroin,” the attorney argued. “He simply wants to give his wife a chance to recover by receiving a standard dose of the medicine that some researchers said has proven effective in combating Covid-19.”
As of this writing, the case is still at a nightmarish stalemate, with Tamara barely clinging to life, the hospital unyielding in its refusal to give her ivermectin, and the judge supporting that refusal.
The case marked the second time in less than two weeks that a Palm Beach County judge has been asked to decide whether an area hospital should be ordered to give a gravely ill Covid patient ivermectin.
In the second case, however, Bethesda Hospital East in Boynton Beach chose a more humane route, agreeing to give the drug to 65-year-old Glenn Stephanos. The accord was reached after Circuit Judge John Kastrenakes asked hospital officials and Stephanos’s wife to try to settle the case out of court.
New York Ivermectin Lawsuits
Court records reveal harrowing stories of New Yorkers desperately seeking a way to use ivermectin to keep relatives from succumbing to Covid-19, a report by Lohud said.
The records, in the form of affidavits attached to lawsuits, open a window on the family members’ intense fear and pain of losing their loved one, and their desperation to find a lifeline in ivermectin, the drug that is the subject of so much heated debate.
In one case, it was a Long Island man who described his 55-year-old wife in court papers as “the love of my life, my other half, and I am completely lost and empty without her!” In another, a Dutchess County woman noted her husband of 63 years suffered a shocking Covid-19 vaccine “breakthrough” infection that resulted in a serious illness.
“My husband has done everything he was told to do by the federal and New York state governments and Health Departments and he still fell sick,” another woman lamented. “He deserves an opportunity to live.” She described him as “a loving husband, father and grandfather, a hard worker who always sacrificed and provided for our family. He is also a U.S. military veteran…We should be doing all we can to treat him with kindness and respect.”
In western New York, court records detail a woman whose husband of 48 years was placed on a ventilator breathing machine at Rochester General Hospital in August. Calling on the judge to force the hospital to treat her husband with the unapproved drug, the woman noted the 71-year-old former high school teacher is a “family man with four children and five grandchildren.”
Many of the lawsuits included common ground about the medical regimens the patients are receiving, and to which some people objected. Almost all are being treated with Remdesivir—which increasing numbers of experts say does nothing to reduce mortality—as well as antibiotics and steroids.
This Covid treatment protocol which is said to have originated in Britain at Oxford University, after being federally approved, has been implemented in the vast majority of hospitals in the United States
Most of the cases in court records involved doctors and nurse practitioners unaffiliated with the hospitals who were willing to prescribe ivermectin for the Covid patients, and family members also agreed to sign some form of liability waiver if the hospitals administered the drug.
According to the Lohud report, the list of hospitals in New York named in the lawsuits included Rochester General Hospital and Highland Hospital in Monroe County, as well as Vassar Brothers Medical Center in Poughkeepsie.
Other New York health systems and hospitals sued in the cases were Buffalo-based Kaleida Health, as well as hospitals on Long Island, including Mount Sinai South Nassau, Glen Cove, St. Catherine of Siena Medical Center and Stony Brook Medical Center.
Many of the cases are pending, with hospitals closely guarding the still confidential details of court hearing and proceedings.
‘He Who Saves One Life Saves the Entire World’
Yated reached out to Dr. Wagshul regarding his experience with ivermectin and his view of vaccines. In response, Dr. Wagshul wrote, “We believe in the vaccines—but breakthrough cases and waning immunity compel us to provide safe adjuvant therapies as a safety net for those who contract Covid despite their best mitigation efforts.”
Ivernectin, he wrote, is that safety net.
The FLCCC founder criticized public health agencies, the mainstream media and social media companies for censoring ivermectin’s merits, even as death tolls from January to August climbed to 4000 a day.
“In early January, 2021,” he recalled, “when FLCCC met with the NIH’s Covid-19 treatment panel,” mortality rates were shooting up. The team asked the NIH to recommend ivermectin as part of a Covid-19 prevention and early treatment protocol.
“The NIH came back with a ‘neutral’ stance on ivermectin,” he said. “That fell well short of the recommendation FLCCC had advised for the kind of early treatment protocols that were saving lives in many regions and countries of the world. With the same stroke of the pen, they could have accomplished so much more. This is a profound failure of a nation’s leaders to protect its citizens during a killer pandemic.”
Dr. Wagshul noted that U.S. public health agencies are now rolling out anti-virals from Merck, Pfizer and other pharmaceutical companies, as the federal agencies have become aware that vaccines alone cannot help us conquer Covid. “However, no new anti-viral brought to market,” he stressed, “can match the proven safety of 40-year-old ivermectin; nor its efficacy in all phases of Covid -19 disease.”
“The Talmud says that ‘those who save one life save the entire world,’ Wagshul noted. “And where there is life, there is hope.” He called on doctors to renew their Hippocratic oath and commitment “to try everything we know to save every life we can.”