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Norton Brownsboro Hospital in east Louisville.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- A Louisville judge denied a woman's request to order Norton Healthcare to treat her husband, a COVID-19 patient, with ivermectin, an anti-parasitic drug that has not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration for preventing or treating the virus.

A lawsuit filed last week by Angela Underwood says her husband, Lonnie, was on a ventilator at Norton Brownsboro, but the hospital would not administer ivermectin without a “valid court order” and a physician who would provide the treatment.

Underwood said she is a registered nurse and cited studies she claimed proved patients who took the drug showed improvement. She asked that her husband be treated with ivermectin by a Norton physician or “another healthcare provider of my choosing including myself if necessary.”

But in ruling Wednesday, Jefferson Circuit Court Judge Charles Cunningham said the internet is “rife with the ramblings of persons who spout ill-conceived conclusions if not out-right falsehoods.” And if Underwood wants the judge to rule in her favor, she needs to present the sworn testimony of "solid witnesses” and evidence based on data, Cunningham ruled.

This appears to be the first court case in Louisville involving a patient or family member suing a hospital and requesting a judge order a COVID-19 treatment that a hospital has declined. Other cases are playing out all over the country. In Cincinnati last month, for example, a judge ruled in favor of a woman to force a hospital to administer ivermectin to her husband.

The drug was originally developed to deworm livestock animals before doctors began using it against parasitic diseases in humans, according to reports. The World Health Organization, which includes it in an "essential medicines list" for scabies and other parasite-linked illnesses, has advised against its use for COVID-19. 

Underwood’s Sept. 9 lawsuit initially looked promising for her. 

Jefferson Circuit Court Judge Judith McDonald-Burkman ordered the hospital to treat Underwood with ivermectin “if medically indicated and ordered by appropriate physician.”

And on Tuesday, at the request of Underwood, McDonald-Burkman approved intravenous vitamin C, with the same conditions. 

A doctor wrote an order for the drug, but Norton said in a follow-up court hearing that he had “refused to come see his patient,” according to court records.

Angela Underwood contended that the hospital refused to let the doctor treat her husband.

Cunningham did not resolve that dispute but found that the doctor did not have admitting privileges at Norton, and a COVID-19 case at that stage must be treated in person. He also found that ivermectin is not “generally accepted by medical science” and wouldn’t be proper for a patient in Lonnie Underwood’s condition.

As recently as this month, the FDA advised people not to take the drug to treat or prevent COVID-19. In an online posting, it said data doesn't show that it works, although there are clinical trials underway assessing ivermectin tablets' effectiveness against the disease.

“The record before the Court is devoid of the sort of sworn ‘professional medical advice’ courts routinely rely on,” Cunningham ruled.

Underwood would like the “court to compel the hospital to adopt her way of thinking – to conclude she, or at least the persons she is staking her husband’s life on, are ahead of the curve rather than behind it,” according to the ruling. And he noted Norton had provided testimony from a doctor with “professional medical advice” that the court could rely on.

Cunningham said Angela Underwood can find a different hospital “that thinks the way she does” and transfer her husband there.

“This is impractical because it is likely that no such hospital in the United States, or certainly this region, agrees with Plaintiff,” the judge ruled.

Cunningham also ruled Angela Underwood could find an appropriate physician to treat her husband “as she feels he should be treated,” if she can show the judge that the medication is “relatively safe.”

“That is a herculean task and one unlikely to be accomplished in a time-frame the family finds workable,” according to the order.

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