NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — There is a controversy surrounding a drug some are using for COVID-19 treatment. 

Both Riverside Health and Sentara Healthcare have banned the use of Ivermectin to treat COVID-19, which is approved to treat parasitic infections such as roundworm and threadworm.  

Eastern Virginia Medical School employee and Professor Dr. Paul Marik is suing Sentara over the ban of Ivermectin. He claims the drug can save lives, and probably has. 

Marik is a physician with Eastern Virginia Medical School and is not a Sentara employee. However he works under contract at Sentara Norfolk General Hospital, and was appointed director of Sentara’s ICU. He has credentialing privileges.

He was notably reprimanded by the Virginia Board of Medicine earlier this year for prescribing controlled substances to people who weren’t his patients, but still says he finds it bizarre he can’t issue medications.

“They haven’t told me I’m no longer the director, but as it stands today, I am the director of the ICU,” he said.

We asked Marik why he believes Ivermectin saves lives.

“The last time I was in the Sentara Healthcare ICU was Oct. 25. On that day, I had seven patients with COVID-19 pneumonia. Six are now dead. Another is in tough condition… I’m not saying I could have reversed the death of all six of them, but at least give me the opportunity to treat them with every tool in the toolbox to prevent them dying,” he said. 

On Thursday, Marik will ask the court to allow him to provide Ivermectin pending a lawsuit he has filed against Sentara.  Marik argues Ivermectin is used all over the world for COVID-19 treatment, just not in America.  

Marik says the issue is not about Ivermectin, it’s about doctor-patient relationships, 

“This is not about Ivermectin. This is about the bedside doctor being able to do what doctors have been doing for decades, and what doctors do across the world. Doctors decide what is the best treatment for their patients, and they alone are responsible for the patient and the treatment of the patient,” he said. 

There’s a slew of drugs Marik says are shown to be effective for COVID-19 treatment.

“They are safe off-label drugs that they are prohibiting me from using,” he said.

A Sentara Healthcare corporate communications advisor sees it completely the other way.  

In an email, they wrote: “Sentara Healthcare … follows evidenced-based protocols as recommended by trusted agencies including CDC, NIH, and FDA. All of these agencies currently do not recommend the use of Ivermectin as a treatment for COVID-19 due to a lack of evidence regarding its safety and efficacy.”    

We asked Marik about that.

“So, yes that is true. The NIH doesn’t recommend it, but if you look at the statement these are guidelines and not rules, and the physician needs to use his clinical judgment on how to treat the patients,” Marik said.

Suffolk Attorney Fred Taylor will argue Dr. Marik’s case.

“I think what we are asking for is Sentara to respect patient rights. We want doctors to be able to freely and ably give information,” Taylor said.