Several inmates at a northwest Arkansas jail said they weren't told a medication they were given to treat COVID-19 was actually an anti-parasite drug that federal health officials have warned should not be used to treat the coronavirus. Three inmates at the Washington County jail told the AP they didn't know they were being given ivermectin until its use at the facility was revealed last week. The ACLU of Arkansas, which on Wednesday repeated its call for the practice to end, said it's also heard similar complaints from several inmates who say they were told the drug was vitamins or steroids.
The inmates' comments contradict assertions by the sheriff and the jail’s physician that the use of the drug was voluntary. The drug's use at the jail has prompted an investigation by the state Medical Board, reports the AP. "They were pretty much testing us in here is all they were doing, seeing if it would work," said William Evans, an inmate who said he was given the drug for two weeks after he tested positive for COVID-19. Jail physician Dr. Rob Karas last week released a lengthy statement defending the use of ivermectin, saying he had been prescribing the drug to inmates and patients at his clinics since late last year.
Edrick Floreal-Wooten, an inmate, said he was given ivermectin at the jail after he tested positive on Aug. 21. "I asked what are they, and they'd just tell me vitamins," Floreal-Wooten said. "I never thought they would do something shady." Asked whether he would have taken the drug had they told him at the outset it was ivermectin, he responded: “Never. I'm not livestock. I'm a human." (Podcaster Joe Rogan says he took the drug after testing positive for COVID.)