The four Arkansas prisoners who sued their jail over allegations they knowingly prescribed them ivermectin to treat Covid without consent have settled the dispute for $2,000 each.
The quartet previously said they were administered the drug as a form of “medical experimentation” without prior informed consent or knowledge of the drug’s contents and potential side effects. Instead, the doctor at the jail told them they received “vitamins, antibiotics, and/or steroids”.
The prisoners became aware of the situation in July 2021. US health officials have warned that ivermectin, an anti-parasitic drug typically used for animals, should not be used to treat Covid. The jail proceeded anyway.
This resulted in the inmates suffering side effects such as blurred vision, stomach cramps and diarrhea, the lawsuit said.
The lawsuit was filed by the American Civil Liberties Union’s Arkansas chapter on behalf of the inmates – Edrick Floreal-Wooten, Jeremiah Little, Julio Gonzales, and Dayman Blackburn – against the Washington county detention center, a former Washington county sheriff, and Robert Karas, the doctor who administered the drug.
The ACLU called the settlement a “victory for civil rights and medical ethics”.
An ACLU press release said: “The ACLU of Arkansas, committed to defending and preserving civil liberties, took on this case to prevent further administration of medication without people’s knowledge and consent.
“Notice and consent procedures and forms have been improved for people detained in WCDC, and those who suffered the treatment received a monetary settlement of $2,000 each. While this resolution of this matter is significant, it underscores the undeniable reality that courts have limited powers and cannot alone rectify all injustices.
Ivermectin swarmed news cycles in the midst of the pandemic in 2021, as conservative politicians falsely promoted it as a cure for Covid.
The testing of experimental drugs on incarcerated people in the US has a long history. In 1977, then president Jimmy Carter authorized the continued testing of drugs on prisoners in 1977.
In 2015, the ACLU successfully filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the CIA and found CIA doctors violated several ethical obligations between 2002 and 2007, including “Project Medication”, a plan to incorporate drug-assisted interrogations of prisoners.
Today, the US’s department of health and human services employs strict rules for medical experimentation involving prisoners.