LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — The Arkansas Medical Board has opened an investigation following reports that inmates at a county jail were prescribed an anti-parasitic drug to combat COVID-19 even though it hasn’t been approved to treat the coronavirus.
Board Director Amy Embry on Thursday declined to elaborate on the panel’s investigation, which she said began in the last two days. Embry said the investigation came in response to multiple complaints related to news reports about the use of ivermectin at the Washington County jail.
Washington County’s sheriff confirmed Tuesday night that jail inmates had been prescribed ivermectin, but did not say how many. It wasn’t clear if all the inmates who were prescribed the medication had tested positive for COVID-19.
“There is an open investigation and we can’t comment on it right now,” Embry told The Associated Press.
Dr. Rob Karas, the jail’s physician, has said no inmates were forced to take the the drug. Karas did not immediately respond to a message Thursday.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved ivermectin for use by people and animals for some parasitic worms, head lice and skin conditions. The FDA has not approved its use in treating or preventing COVID-19 in humans.
Embry declined to say who was the target of the board’s investigation. The board has authority over physicians, but not jail facilities.