FDA Settles Lawsuit After Discouraging Ivermectin Use

A 2022 lawsuit against the FDA was settled Thursday, requiring the FDA to take down all of its pandemic posts discouraging the use of the drug Ivermectin.

The lawsuit, filed by three doctors, Paul Marik, Mary Talley Bowden, and Robert Apter, points out that the FDA overstepped its role and involved itself in private medical decisions by heavily discouraging the use of the drug to treat COVID-19.

Posts such as one from 2021 with pictures of a horse captioned, “You are not a horse. You are not a cow. Seriously, y’all. Stop it,” and a link to an FDA article titled, “Why You Should Not Take Ivermectin to Treat or Prevent COVID-19” were made by the agency during the pandemic.

The article linked stated that Ivermectin was a medication used for livestock and did not point out that Ivermectin is also frequently and safely used in human medicine, both for removing parasites and for common skin conditions.

Judge Jeffrey Brown for the U.S. Southern District Court in Texas initially dismissed the case, ruling that the FDA had “sovereign immunity.”

The decision was appealed, and a three-judge panel from the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reopened the case.

The court stated that the “FDA is not a physician. It has authority to inform, announce, and apprise-but not to endorse, denounce, or advise,” and “Even tweet-sized doses of personalized medical advice are beyond FDA’s statuatory medical authority. We reverse the district court’s judgment of dismissal, and we remand for further proceedings.”

The FDA chose to settle, agreeing to take down posts warning against Ivermectin’s use in exchange for an end to the legal proceedings. According to the agreement, the case has been dismissed “with prejudice” and the FDA is required to take down its posts within 21 days.

The damage, however, has already been done. In July 2021, the Federation of State Medical Boards warned that physicians spreading COVID-19 misinformation online and in the media may be at risk of losing their medical licenses.

While doctors can lose their licenses for doing harm or lying to patients, penalizing doctors for using particular treatments when no others are available is a concerning precedent.