NORFOLK, Va. — A Norfolk Circuit Court judge says he'll take a few days to rule on a lawsuit regarding the use of alternative treatments and drugs for COVID-19 patients.
Dr. Paul Marik, a Norfolk critical care doctor, is taking Sentara Healthcare to court over a ban on certain medications for COVID-19 treatment, including the use of ivermectin.
Ivermectin is a drug commonly used to treat parasites in horses and livestock, with limited approved uses for humans. The FDA and CDC do not approve the use of ivermectin for patients with COVID-19.
Dr. Marik claims ivermectin and other medications are more effective at treating COVID-19, frequently citing international studies and trials in place of the rejections from various national health organizations in America.
Sentara Healthcare says a group of doctors and physicians - making up a review panel - conducted a rigorous review process before deciding ivermectin and other drugs should be prohibited, instead of discouraged but allowed, based on recommendations from the FDA, CDC and other organizations.
On Thursday, dozens of protesters demonstrated outside the Norfolk courthouse in support of Dr. Paul Marik.
Marik was greeted with cheers, chants, and songs as he made his way into the courthouse.
Sentara Healthcare has a list of medications it does not endorse for the treatment of COVID-19, due to a "lack of evidence regarding their safety and efficacy."
Marik has said critically ill patients with COVID-19 are dying "unnecessarily and unjustifiably."
In his lawsuit, Marik argues that Sentara's guidelines are preventing patients from exercising their right to choose what medications they receive in consultation with their doctor.
Sentara said in most situations, physicians are able to deviate from guidelines to individualize care for patients, but in some scenarios, treatments that "may potentially harm patients or that are widely considered to be outside the standard of care may be limited."
Marik helped create a treatment protocol called MATH+ that includes the use of ivermectin and other drugs. In the lawsuit, he alleges that protocol is more effective at preventing COVID-19 deaths than FDA-approved methods.
He testified in court Thursday that he has never prescribed ivermectin for COVID-19 patients, although he said he had prescribed some of the other drugs that are now prohibited for COVID-19 treatment under Sentara's policy, including fluvoxamine.
Thursday, a judge heard arguments about the safety of ivermectin and other drugs, while the two sides discussed the roles of doctors and hospitals in-patient care.
Judge David Lannetti told both parties that he's not interested in deciding which medical opinion is correct, but he's looking at the law to decide whether Sentara is within its rights to adopt specific guidelines, and whether Marik has the legal authority to override them.
Marik is scheduled to return to his role at the Sentara Norfolk General Hospital General ICU this weekend.
Unless the judge rules in his favor, he would able to recommend these alternative treatments based on his medical opinion, but not prescribe the drugs based on the hospital system's guidelines.