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Anti-vaccine doctor fired for trying to treat COVID-19 patients with ivermectin

The controversy surrounding ivermectin
The controversy surrounding ivermectin 08:55

A Mississippi doctor said he was fired from his job at a local hospital after trying to treat COVID-19 patients with anti-parasite drug ivermectin. 

Dr. John Witcher, an emergency room physician, said he was let go from Baptist Memorial Hospital in Yazoo City, Mississippi, for taking three COVID-19 patients off Remdesivir, an antiviral drug approved by the Food and Drug Administration to treat the virus, and instead trying to put them on ivermectin. That violated the hospital's policy on ivermectin, which is not approved by the FDA for COVID-19.

Ivermectin is used to treat human infections caused by parasitic worms. Topical forms of the drug are approved to treat head lice and skin conditions like rosacea, according to the FDA.

Dr. Witcher, founder of a physicians group that disputes the efficacy of the coronavirus vaccine and opposes requirements that people be inoculated, told podcast the Stew Peters Show that he thinks Remdesivir "has not proven to be beneficial" to COVID-19 patients. 

"I was very surprised that I was basically told to not come back at the end of the day," Dr. Witcher said on the podcast. "These patients were under my direct care, and so I felt like taking them off Remdesivir and putting them on ivermectin was the right thing to do at the time."

Dr. Witcher did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

In a statement to CBS MoneyWatch, Baptist Memorial confirmed that Dr. Witcher "no longer practices medicine as an independent physician" at its Yazoo facility. A spokesperson noted that Dr. Witcher was an independent contractor and not an employee of Baptist Memorial.

Additionally, Baptist Memorial said it follows "the standards of care recommended by the scientific community and our medical team in the prevention and treatment of COVID-19," including FDA-approved COVID-19 vaccines and monoclonal antibody treatments. 

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Ivermectin has proved controversial. In August, an Arkansas doctor who prescribed ivermectin to jail inmates with COVID-19 was investigated by the state's medical board after the FDA warned against use of the drug to treat human COVID-19 patients. Podcaster and comedian Joe Rogan in September said he himself used ivermectin after testing positive for the virus.

"Ivermectin tablets are approved at very specific doses for some parasitic worms, and there are topical (on the skin) formulations for head lice and skin conditions like rosacea," according to the FDA, which has said that large doses of the drug are potentially dangerous. "Ivermectin is not an anti-viral (a drug for treating viruses)." 

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