In the latest conflict over ivermectin between a hospital and doctor, a Mississippi emergency medicine physician said in a video that he has been fired for his efforts to treat COVID-19 patients with the drug.
In the video recently posted to the messaging app Telegram, John Witcher, MD, said that he was let go from Baptist Memorial Hospital-Yazoo in Yazoo City after taking three patients off remdesivir (Veklury), which is FDA-approved for the treatment of COVID, and replacing it with ivermectin, the Sun Herald reported.
“I was aware I was going against the hospital policy on ivermectin but still felt like, as the treating physician of these patients, that I had that option,” Witcher said in the video, according to the Sun Herald.
Witcher further said that he no longer has control over the patients he has been caring for and believes they have been put back on remdesivir, noting that he remains concerned and would like to have access to his patients.
Witcher has also been vocal in his opposition to COVID vaccine mandates, leading a group called Mississippi Against Mandates, even as public health experts continue to emphasize that vaccination remains the best tool to prevent severe illness, hospitalization, and death.
Mississippi Against Mandates consists of nine physicians and specifically focuses their attention on hospitals requiring employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19, the Sun Herald reported.
A spokesperson for Baptist Memorial Health Care said in an emailed statement that Witcher “no longer practices medicine as an independent physician at Baptist Memorial Hospital-Yazoo.”
At no time has Witcher been a Baptist employee, the spokesperson explained.
“Baptist Memorial hospitals follow the standards of care recommended by the scientific community and our medical team in the prevention and treatment of COVID-19,” the spokesperson continued. “These include the COVID-19 vaccine and monoclonal antibody treatment, which have proven to be safe and effective in severely reducing illness from the virus and saving countless lives.”
“We are grateful for the support and commitment of our healthcare workers who have risked their lives and tirelessly worked to provide compassionate care for our community since the start of this pandemic,” the spokesperson added.
At Baptist Memorial Hospital-Yazoo, Witcher had privileges for about 2 years through its contract with the firm SCP Health, Becker’s Hospital Review reported.
SCP Health did not immediately respond to a request for comment, and Witcher was not immediately able to be reached.
Witcher is not the only physician to face consequences after prescribing ivermectin to COVID patients.
In Virginia, Paul Marik, MD, a founding member of the Front Line COVID-19 Critical Care Alliance, sued Sentara Healthcare over its ban of certain treatments for COVID. Marik’s complaint was filed the same day that the Journal of Intensive Care Medicine retracted an article that Marik co-authored on his MATH+ Hospital Treatment Protocol for COVID-19, which includes ivermectin.
In addition, St. Peter’s Health, a hospital in Helena, Montana, accused several state officials of threatening physicians who had refused to treat a COVID-19 patient with ivermectin.
Lawsuits filed by family members of COVID patients seeking ivermectin for their loved ones have also cropped up in states such as New York, Illinois, and Ohio.
Jennifer Henderson joined MedPage Today as an enterprise and investigative writer in Jan. 2021. She has covered the healthcare industry in NYC, life sciences and the business of law, among other areas.