FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — Patients come in support of a doctor August 27 whose actions are being investigated by the Arkansas Medical Board.

Dr. Rob Karas has been prescribing the drug ivermectin to treat inmates with COVID-19 at the Washington County Jail.

The animal version of ivermectin is sometimes used as a veterinary drug for large animals or livestock.

There is a version used in low doses for humans, but it is not FDA approved to treat the virus.

The people demonstrating today wanted to make it known they support all of Dr. Karas practices.

Nikki Beaver came out to support Karas.

“We want to show our support so he continues to do good work and save lives,” Beaver said.

Paige Fogg also came out to support Karas.

“Stand firm and you will win life, Luke 21:19,” Fogg said. “We just want to encourage them to stand firm. Don’t give up. We stand with him.”

Tyler Hoover’s wife is a patient of Karas.

“I just know that he’s helping my family with that he is doing and we want to show support for that.”

Hoover’s wife tested positive for COVID-19 two weeks ago.

He says since seeing Karas, his wife has been feeling much better.

Hoover also says ivermectin isn’t the only factor in Karas’ treatments. It includes several other vitamins and over-the-counter drugs like aspirin.

Dr. Karas declined an interview, but provided a statement which can be read below:

My name is Dr. Robert Karas.  I am a licensed medical doctor and operate two urgent care clinics in Northwest Arkansas.  Additionally, I (along with a large and dedicated staff) provide all medical services to detainees at the Washington County Jail through my company Karas Correctional Health, PLLC.  Yesterday it was brought to my attention that a local politician questioned my practice of prescribing Ivermectin to COVID-19 patients in the Washington County Jail.  Following the ensuing news coverage, I have received numerous requests for interviews and comments.  I am too busy treating sick patients to respond to every inquiry and, quite frankly, am concerned that media attention will only serve to further politicize a non-political issue to the detriment of the sick patients I see every day. 

The COVID pandemic has wreaked havoc across the world.  The original strain of the virus and the new Delta variant represent a public health crisis that has strained the resources of our communities and healthcare systems.  While the entire country has suffered tremendously, the virus poses a particularly high risk here in Arkansas as a result of low vaccination rates.  My overworked staff and I have cared for thousands of COVID patients including family members and friends over the course of the last year and a half.  Like all medical providers, we have watched some of those patients become hospitalized, intubated and die.   The development of safe and effective vaccines has been a tremendous asset in the fight against COVID, and the research as well as my personal observations suggest that the vaccines are tremendously effective in preventing serious illness among the infected, and that they represent our best first line of defense against the virus.  However, the availability of vaccines does not change the day-to-day reality of caring for sick patients.

In late 2020, we began what I consider compassionate use of Ivermectin as part of a comprehensive plan of care for both clinic and jail patients who had become significantly sick from COVID.  Ivermectin is an antiparasitic medication with a lengthy track record of safe administration around the world.  Over the last forty years, it is estimated that four billion doses have been administered – primarily to patients with parasitic infections in developing countries.  Ivermectin has FDA approved on-label uses in humans in the United States, and dosing schedules and side effect profiles are well understood.  While the medication has not been approved by the FDA for treatment of COVID-19 patients, in-vitro and controlled studies as well as a significant amount of anecdotal evidence suggests that Ivermectin may significantly improve outcomes for critically sick COVID-19 patients.

In my medical judgment, weighing the known risks and side effect profile of Ivermectin against the potential benefits supports the administration of Ivermectin (which we obtained from a licensed pharmacist in dosages and compounds formulated for humans) to COVID-19 patients.  I do not have the luxury of conducting my own clinical trial or study and am not attempting to do so.  I am on the front line of trying to prevent death and serious illness.  I am proud of our track record in both of my clinics and at the jail in particular, where not one single patient of the five hundred plus who have followed our plan of care has been hospitalized, intubated or died. 

I do not own an interest in any pharmacy and receive no benefits whatsoever from prescribing Ivermectin.  It is a generic medication.  I have no ambitions or agenda other than caring for the sick.  I continue to urge the public to get vaccinated, to get tested if symptoms are present or exposure has occurred, and to seek the immediate medical care and advice of a licensed physician if you feel sick.  Medications such as Ivermectin should only be prescribed by a doctor and self-administering over the counter or improperly sourced Ivermectin is foolish and dangerous.  Ultimately this is a national health crisis and not a political issue, and I will continue striving for the best outcomes possible for my patients. 

Dr. Rob Karas