NORFOLK, Va. — A Norfolk critical care doctor filed a lawsuit against Sentara Healthcare, seeking to end the healthcare system's ban on the use of certain medications for the treatment of patients with COVID-19.
Dr. Paul Marik, an EVMS physician who works under contract at Sentara Norfolk General Hospital, filed an injunction last week in Norfolk Circuit Court. A hearing is set for Thursday.
In the lawsuit, Marik says "critically ill patients at Sentara Norfolk General Hospital...are dying unnecessarily and unjustifiably."
Marik argues Sentara's COVID-19 Comprehensive Treatment Guidelines are "preventing terminally ill COVID patients from exercising their right to choose and receive safe, potentially life-saving treatment."
The lawsuit says Sentara's medication ban violates American and Virginia medical law and the concept of informed consent, in which doctors inform patients of alternative or experimental treatments and patients have the option to choose these methods.
The list of medications on Sentara's "do not endorse" list for COVID-19 treatment include Ivermectin, Bicalutamide, Etoposide, Fluvoxamine, Dutasteride, Finasteride and Ascorbic acid (Vitamin C) IV.
Sentara Healthcare, in a written statement, said it follows "evidence-based protocols to treat COVID-19 as recommended by trusted agencies including the CDC, NIH and FDA. All of these agencies do not recommend the use of ivermectin as a treatment for COVID-19 due to a lack of evidence regarding its safety and efficacy."
The healthcare system said it creates treatment guidelines through clinician review of literature, care standards and expert advice.
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."
Ivermectin is a drug that's regularly used to treat and prevent parasites in horses and livestock. It's also been approved by the FDA to treat parasitic worms, headlines, and skin conditions like rosacea.
It's not been approved by the FDA or CDC for COVID-19 treatment.
Ivermectin is one of the multiple medications listed in a treatment protocol called MATH+, which was developed by Dr. Marik and others and is cited in the lawsuit.
Dr. Marik also helped create a non-profit group called the Front Line COVID-19 Critical Care Alliance at the start of the pandemic.
The FLCCC says MATH+ "has been used all over the world to effectively treat patients with COVID-19. It is generally well-tolerated with no reports of adverse medical events."
The civil lawsuit claims "doctors in other hospitals using the protocol of COVID medications that Dr. Marik favors have achieved mortality rates of 4 to 7%."
In its response to 13News Now, Sentara healthcare said the Journal of Intensive Care Medicine's editorial board recently retracted an article that Dr. Marik co-authored on the MATH+ protocol.
Sentara Healthcare said it "felt obligated to reach out to JICM with our concerns about Sentara Norfolk General Hospital data that the authors used to make conclusions, and provide accurate data to the Journal. After thorough review by JICM’s editorial board, the article was retracted."