The doctor who prescribed the deworming drug ivermectin to an Ohio man despite protests from hospital officials belongs to a larger group of medical professionals who promote the drug as a cure for Covid-19.
The doctor, Fred Wagshul, a cardiovascular and pulmonary disease specialist in Dayton, is listed as a founding member of the Front Line Covid-19 Critical Care Alliance, or FLCCCA, a nonprofit organization formed during the pandemic made up of physicians who don't agree with some of the state and federal government's Covid guidance.
According to its website, the alliance is "dedicated to developing highly effective treatment protocols to prevent the transmission of COVID-19 and to improve the outcomes for patients ill with the disease."
The group reviews published medical literature, helps develop "effective treatment protocols" and educates physicians on emerging treatment options for Covid-19 patients.
Among those treatments is ivermectin, which has been called a "wonder drug" because of its use in treating parasitic diseases but has not shown the same results in studies against viruses. The alliance takes a pro-ivermectin stance, saying on its website that "we regard ivermectin as a core medication in the prevention and treatment" of Covid-19. The group also provides guides on how to get an ivermectin prescription and encourages people to take preventive doses of the drug and to wear masks.
Last month, Wagshul prescribed ivermectin to Jeffrey Smith, a patient in the intensive care unit of West Chester Hospital. Wagshul was not affiliated with the hospital and was sought out by Smith's wife, Julie, who turned to ivermectin after the hospital said they had exhausted all treatment options for her husband.
Wagshul is a vocal proponent of treating Covid-19 with ivermectin, an anti-parasitic deworming medicine used on animals and humans that has not been proven to be effective against Covid. He told The Ohio Capital Journal it was akin to "genocide" not to use the drug in Covid-19 treatment, and the science behind its efficacy is "irrefutable." He also said the FDA's discouraging of its use among Covid patients was part of a larger conspiracy.
After West Chester Hospital officials refused to prescribe the drug to Smith, his wife sued and, on Aug. 23, a judge ruled in her favor. Now, her husband is on a three-week dose of the medicine. His current condition is unknown.
The drug was the subject of research into possible use as a Covid-19 treatment - including a promising non-peer-reviewed study that was later determined to be "flawed" and taken down by the website Research Square, which hosts preprints of research papers that have not yet been published in academic journals.
FLCCCA did not return a request for comment and many of its founding members were unable to be reached. Wagshul did not immediately respond to calls and an email seeking comment.
On Wednesday, the podcast host Joe Rogan told his millions of followers that he has Covid-19 and was using ivermectin to beat the virus.
Ivermectin was originally introduced as a veterinary drug for livestock animals in the late-1970s and quickly proved useful in combating certain human diseases caused by parasites, a discovery that won the Nobel Prize for medicine in 2015. It comes in pills and pastes, in versions meant for humans and for animals.
The Food and Drug Administration last month urged people to stop believing misinformation claiming that the livestock treatment would help cure Covid, saying it saw multiple reports of patients who have been hospitalized after "self-medicating with ivermectin intended for horses."
In a statement in March and republished in August, Dr. Pierre Kory, president and chief medical officer of the FLCCC, promoted ivermectin's safety record and called FDA guidance misleading.
"Due to its extensive record of safe use, medical professionals can feel confident about prescribing Ivermectin," Kory said. "In the 40 years since it was first approved for use, more than 3.8 billion people have been treated with an average of only 160 adverse events reported per year. This is a better safety record than several vitamins."