Butler County woman testifies controversial drug helped husband in COVID fight

A Fairfield Twp. woman testified on Thursday that her husband’s condition has improved with treatment of COVID-19 with the drug Ivermectin as attorneys for UC Health West Chester Hospital, where he is in intensive care, questioned her and the doctor who wrote the prescription about the validity of the drug that has drawn warnings from national organizations.

Julie Smith, whose 51-year-old husband, Jeffrey Smith, was breathing only with aid of a ventilator earlier this month, won a ruling from Butler County Common Pleas Judge J. Gregory Howard earlier this month that UC West Chester must honor a doctor’s prescription and treat Jeffrey Smith with Ivermectin.

That ruling came after an emergency hearing and is in effect for only 14 days. On Thursday, Judge Michael Oster Jr. held a hearing for a preliminary injunction that would lead to a ruling that could cover the entire length of the prescription and possibly beyond.

New York-based attorney Ralph Lorigo, who represents Smith, said Jeffrey Smith had been on a ventilator for 33 days. He said there has been a “remarkable improvement” in the past three days after the use of Ivermectin, as his level of dependency on the ventilator has dropped from 100 percent to 50 percent.

Julie Smith said that when her husband continued to get worse and struggle on a ventilator, she sought more possible treatment options. When she found Dr. Fred Waghsul of Centerville, a pulmonologist who has a practice with Lung Center of America and wrote an Ivermectin prescription for Jeffrey Smith, she said “it gave me hope that I didn’t have to just watch him die.”

Julie Smith said she and her husband were not vaccinated and chose not to be because “it was an experimental vaccine and we did not feel confident about it.”

According to the complaint, Jeffrey tested positive July 9 for COVID-19. On July 15, after excessive coughing, with his oxygen saturation dropping dangerously low, he was admitted to the hospital. He was moved to the ICU later that day.

The hospital “treated Jeffrey with its Covid-19 protocol, which consisted of Remdesivir, plasma, and steroids,” the lawsuit states.

On July 27, after a period of “relative stability,” his condition started to decline, his oxygen levels dropping and his condition unstable. From July 28 through July 31, Jeffrey was prone all night on his stomach and flipped on his back during the day, a treatment that works for some, but his condition continued to decline. He was placed on a ventilator Aug. 1.

Two days later, there was a Code Blue, after the sedation drug ran out, allowing Jeffrey to wake up and rip the air tube from his esophagus, disturbing his feeding tube and allowing food particles and toxins to escape into his lungs, the lawsuit states.

With her husband “on death’s doorstep,” according to the lawsuit, the hospital “has exhausted its course of treatment and COVID-19 protocol in treating Jeffrey, which is unacceptable to Ms. Smith.”

The hospital refused to administer Ivermectin after she offered to sign a liability release for the hospital and those working there. She sought the advice of Dr. Waghsul, whom the lawsuit called “one of the foremost experts on using Ivermectin in treating Covid-19 and a founding member of the Frontline Covid-19 Critical Care Alliance; he supports the use of Ivermectin to treat Jeffrey, and prescribed Ivermectin to him.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued an official health advisory, cautioning, “Ivermectin is not authorized or approved by FDA for prevention or treatment of COVID-19,” and stating that the National Institutes of Health have found insufficient data to recommend it for use against the disease.

The medication is mainly used for large animals, such as horses, sheep and cattle, and “can be highly concentrated and result in overdoses when used in humans,” the CDC wrote.

The drug’s manufacturer, Merck, in February announced there was “no scientific basis for a potential therapeutic effect against COVID-19 from pre-clinical studies.”

Wagshul is listed as a founding doctor in the Front Line COVID-19 Critical Care Alliance, a non-profit organization founded in March 2020 that offers “prevention & treatment protocols for COVID-19.

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