NORFOLK — A critical care physician trying to end Sentara Norfolk General Hospital’s ban on administering ivermectin and several other drugs to its COVID-19 patients called the prohibition “unprecedented” and “cruel” during testimony in a court hearing Thursday over whether the ban should be lifted.
Dr. Paul Marik, the longtime director of the hospital’s intensive care unit, sued Sentara Healthcare last week, arguing the organization is endangering the lives of its COVID patients by preventing him from using his treatment protocol. He asked the court to immediately issue an injunction that would prevent the hospital from enforcing its ban.
“This is not normal,” Marik testified in Norfolk Circuit Court. “It’s cruel and unusual punishment.”
Thursday’s hearing also included testimony from Dr. Joel Bundy, chief quality and safety control officer for Sentara Healthcare, as well as arguments from attorneys on both sides.
Judge David Lannetti didn’t immediately rule on the request but said he would issue a decision soon.
Bundy said that until September, doctors had been allowed to use ivermectin and the other five medicines — ascorbic acid (Vitamin C) IV, bicalutamide, dutasteride, finasteride, and fluvoxamine — on their COVID-19 patients.
But after the Food and Drug Administration, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institute of Health warned against using ivermectin and some other medicines on coronavirus patients, Sentara officials did their own investigation and decided to create new guidelines ordering doctors not to use the drugs in such cases.
Fred Taylor, a Suffolk attorney who represents Marik, argued the ban is putting patients at risk. He also claimed it interferes with the relationship between a doctor and patient and violates patients’ rights. And he argued Sentara suffers no harm if it allows Marik to use the medications he believes are best because they would have no liability in that situation.
But Jason Davis, an attorney who represents Sentara, said the hospital system has a responsibility to make sure doctors are administering medicines that are safe and effective in a particular situation. Davis also argued it was improper for Marik to try to force the hospital system to do something officials there don’t believe is in patients’ best interests.
Before the hearing, dozens of people stood outside the courthouse holding signs in support of Marik. Many attended the hearing.