Ivermectin isn't one of the drugs being used to treat inmates who have covid-19, a spokeswoman for the Arkansas Department of Corrections said Thursday afternoon.
Cindy Murphy, spokeswoman for the department, said in response to a question from the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette that the medical provider for the prison system has not administered or authorized administering ivermectin to inmates to treat covid-19.
Ivermectin, which is used to treat parasites like heartworms and intestinal worms, has been the subject of controversy during the pandemic, with some advocates arguing it's effective in treating covid-19 while the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has said the drug hasn't been approved to treat covid-19 and could be dangerous.
The federal agency said it has received reports of patients who required medical treatment or were hospitalized after self-medicating with over-the-counter ivermectin products intended for livestock.
Ivermectin also comes in a prescription form for humans.
"The DOC's instructions to Wellpath have been to use only treatment protocols approved by the FDA," Murphy said in an email, referring to the prison system's medical provider.
Chris Jones, a Democratic candidate for governor, demanded in a news release Thursday the end of the use of ivermectin in Arkansas prisons, after Washington County Sheriff Tim Helder confirmed the medical provider for the county jail was treating covid-19 patients with ivermectin.
"This use of ivermectin in our prison system is dangerous, cruel and must stop immediately," Jones said in his news release.
The Washington County jail is not under the purview of the state Department of Corrections.
Murphy said she was unaware of any conversations between the department and Washington County regarding ivermectin treatments.
Solomon Graves, corrections secretary, said at the Board of Correction's meeting earlier this week that the prison system has been using monoclonal antibodies to treat inmates.
Monoclonal antibodies are man-made proteins that act like human antibodies in the immune system and can specifically target a certain antigen, according to the American Cancer Society.
"The inmate does have to agree to receive the treatment," Graves said. "We have had a fair amount who have declined to accept the treatment, but we do have 30 doses available on site."