A Pennsylvania doctor accused of prescribing ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine to treat Covid-19, two drugs that regulators have called not safe for treating the disease, was fired this week, a regional health system said.
The doctor, Edith Behr, who worked for Tower Health, was accused of writing prescriptions for the drugs, which are not approved for the prevention or treatment of Covid, the company said. The health system said it became aware of the allegations against Dr. Behr on Wednesday.
“We investigated the matter and, as a result, Dr. Behr’s employment with Tower Health Medical Group has been terminated effective immediately,” the health system said in a statement on Friday.
Dr. Behr could not be immediately reached for comment on Friday. News of her termination was reported by PennLive.com on Thursday.
Tower Health is a Pennsylvania-based regional health system that consists of several hospitals, including Phoenixville Hospital, about 30 miles northwest of Philadelphia, and Pottstown Hospital. Dr. Behr was on staff at Phoenixville and Pottstown hospitals, according to Tower Health.
She is licensed as a doctor and a surgeon, according to the Pennsylvania Department of State. Tower Health said Dr. Behr had failed to meet the requirements, including consulting patients’ medical histories, for prescribing medications for “off-label” purposes.
The Food and Drug Administration is clear that ivermectin — which is approved for human use to treat head lice, rosacea and infections caused by some parasitic worms — should not be used to prevent or treat Covid.
Similarly, the F.D.A. cautions that hydroxychloroquine, which is approved to treat or prevent malaria and autoimmune conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, has not been shown to be safe and effective against Covid.
In May 2020, President Donald J. Trump announced that he had been taking hydroxychloroquine as a preventive measure for the coronavirus. At the time, the F.D.A. had warned that the drug could cause serious heart problems for coronavirus patients. (Months later, Mr. Trump was hospitalized with the coronavirus.)
Using ivermectin for Covid “can be highly dangerous,” according to the agency.
“Currently available data do not show ivermectin is effective against Covid-19,” the F.D.A. said. “Clinical trials assessing ivermectin tablets for the prevention or treatment of Covid-19 in people are ongoing.”
In its statement, Tower Health said it “encourages all eligible individuals to get vaccinated against Covid-19 and to practice appropriate masking and social distancing.”
The company added, “We will continue to follow recommendations from the F.D.A., C.D.C., and other health authorities in the treatment of the Covid-19 virus.”