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The American Civil Liberties Union of Arkansas has filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of four inmates who claim they were given the drug Ivermectin to treat Covid-19 without their consent. 

The suit, which was filed on Jan. 13 in the US District Court of Western Arkansas against the Washington County Detention Center, Washington County Sheriff Tim Helder, jail physician Dr. Robert Karas, and Karas Correctional Health, accuses the defendants of administering Ivermectin to the incarcerated individuals without prior informed consent as to the nature, contents, or potential side effects of the drug. 

Ivermectin is used to treat parasites such as worms and lice in humans and it is also used by veterinarians to de-worm large animals.

Plaintiffs Edrick Floreal-Wooten, Jeremiah Little, Julio Gonzales, and Dayman Blackburn allege they were deceived over a period of days and possibly weeks after receiving “high amounts” of Ivermectin. The lawsuit states the plaintiffs say they were given Ivermectin as early as November 2020 and didn’t become aware of the treatment until July 2021- instead being told their treatment consisted of “vitamins”, “antibiotics”, and/or “steroids”.  

In August 2021 at a county budget hearing Sheriff Tim Helder confirmed that Karas Correctional Health had been prescribing Ivermectin as a treatment at WCDC, the ACLU said in a news release. Last year the Sheriff’s office defended the practices to the local paper saying that all treatment is “voluntary”.

“They are able to refuse any medication they’re offered. Even with the vaccine, it’s all voluntary,” Chief Deputy Jany Cantrell told the Northwest Arkansas Democrat Gazett. 

Karas also publicly defended his practice on Aug. 25, 2021, stating that there had been no Covid-19 deaths reported out of the 531 cases in the jail at the time, the lawsuit stated. 

CNN previously reported that the Arkansas Medical Board had opened an investigation into the matter. CNN has reached out to the AMB for an update. 

The suit also alleges that the defendants knowingly and intentionally disregarded U.S. Food and Drug Administration warnings against using the drug to treat Covid-19.

Last March, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration cautioned against using Ivermectin to attempt to treat or prevent Covid-19. 

In a news release, Gary Sullivan, legal director of the ACLU of Arkansas accused the detention center of failing to use safe and appropriate treatments for Covid-19, even in the midst of a pandemic. 

“No one – including incarcerated individuals – should be deceived and subject to medical experimentation. Sheriff Helder has a responsibility to provide food, shelter, and safe, appropriate care to incarcerated individuals,” Sullivan said. 

In a statement to CNN, Washington County Sheriff’s Office said they are unable to comment on pending litigation. CNN has also reached out to Karas Correctional Health. 

Arkansas Department of Health spokesperson Danyelle McNeill tells CNN that Karas is scheduled to appear in person before the Arkansas State Medical Board on Feb. 3, 2022.

CNN previously reported that the Arkansas Medical Board had opened an investigation into Karas’ practice of administering the drug Ivermectin as treatment for Covid-19 to inmates detained in the Washington County Detention Center. 

You can read the complaint here.



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