When five detainees at the Washington County Detention Center in Fayetteville, Ark., got sick with COVID-19 in August 2021, they were given a “cocktail” of drugs to treat the virus, a lawsuit alleged. The detainees said they were not told the contents of their medication, an assortment of pills administered twice daily. They allegedly suffered side effects, including vision issues, stomach cramps, and diarrhea. They later discovered that Robert Karas, the doctor who provided the detention center’s health care, had treated them with large doses of ivermectin, the deworming drug pushed by some conservatives as a cure for COVID-19, despite warnings from the Food and Drug Administration, reports the Washington Post. The five detainees sued Karas, the Washington County Detention Center, and a former Washington County sheriff, claiming they were given ivermectin without their knowledge. In a settlement, they each won $2,000 “in a victory for civil rights and medical ethics,” said the American Civil Liberties Union of Arkansas.
“These men are incredibly courageous and resilient to stand up to the abusive, inhumane experimentation they endured at the Washington County Detention Center,” said the ACLIU's Holly Dickson. Michael Mosley, an attorney for the defendants, said that they did not admit wrongdoing and settled based on the “minimal” cost. He said allegations that Karas conducted experiments with ivermectin were false. Ivermectin, which is approved for use in humans by the FDA to treat some parasitic worms, can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, low blood pressure, coma, and death if ingested in excessive quantities, according to the FDA. The FDA, World Health Organization, and National Institutes of Health all warned against the use of ivermectin as a treatment. However, Karas espoused the use of ivermectin in public statements on his clinic’s social media page and sought to conduct his own research on the drug’s efficacy, the lawsuit charged. He allegedly posted signage at his clinic requesting clinical trial volunteers and shared details on social media about treatment plans and the precise doses he administered to patients.