A Texas appeals court ruled Thursday that a hospital can’t be forced to treat a COVID-19 patient in its care with ivermectin, a drug normally used to eliminate parasitic worms, after the wife of a patient sued a hospital to demand the treatment
Jason Jones, a 48-year-old law enforcement official, was hospitalized at the Texas Health Huguley Hospital in Fort Worth in late September after testing positive for the coronavirus. He was put in a medically induced coma and a ventilator on Oct. 7, according to court documents. Erin Jones, his wife, asked Huguley to give her husband ivermectin, after consulting with Mary Talley Bowden, a physician not affiliated with the hospital.
Bowden, who recently lost physician privileges at another hospital, Houston Methodist, after it said she spread “misinformation” about the coronavirus, prescribed the drug. But Huguley staff refused to administer it and Erin Jones filed suit. The Food and Drug Administration has not approved or authorized ivermectin for COVID treatment, though there is widespread interest in the drug on the fringes of the Internet and among some right-wing circles.
Thursday’s ruling overturns a trial court decision that gave Bowden temporary privileges at Huguley.
“Judges are not doctors. We are not empowered to decide whether a particular medication should be administered,” wrote Bonnie Sudderth, chief justice of the Texas appellate court. “Although we may empathize with a wife’s desire to try anything and everything to save her husband, we are bound by the law, and the law in this case does not allow judicial intervention.”
Bowden expressed frustration on Twitter; in an interview with a Houston news channel that aired this week, she said she was simply trying to help people. The Jones family couldn’t be reached for comment. Bowden resigned from Houston Methodist Hospital after losing privileges.
As ivermectin gained traction with some Americans this summer as a treatment for COVID, government agencies advised people against it. “You are not a horse. You are not a cow. Seriously, y’all. Stop it,” the Food and Drug Administration tweeted in August.
So far, the guidance has not stopped people from seeking out the drug as a potential cure. The husband of a Florida teacher who died last week from the disease had unsuccessfully tried to get a Palm Beach court to force doctors to treat her with the drug.
“I’m hoping they name a law after her so no one has to go through this,” Ryan Drock told the Associated Press. “If she had walked out of the hospital she could have had the medication.”
Meanwhile, owners of livestock who had been frequent buyers of ivermectin before the pandemic have been finding it hard to buy the drug. Federal regulators are reviewing two promising COVID antiviral pills that can be prescribed and taken at home to prevent the worst outcomes.