Doctor Fined for Prescribing Ivermectin for COVID

— Wei-Hsung Lin, MD, will have to pay $5,000 and take CME courses on managing COVID

 A photo composite of covid viruses next to a box of ivermectin dispersible tablets.

Washington state physician Wei-Hsung Lin, MD, was fined $5,000 by the state's medical board for prescribing ivermectin during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Lin, who practices at Kadlec Regional Medical Center in Richland, Washington -- part of the Providence health system -- will also have to take continuing medical education (CME) classes on COVID and on the patient-physician relationship, according to board documents.

The Washington Medical Commission cited Lin for substandard care of five patients in 2021.

In one case, Lin prescribed ivermectin to a 69-year-old man with a long list of heart ailments, including congestive heart failure, atrial fibrillation, and coronary artery disease, as well as hypertension and type 2 diabetes.

That patient was taking an anticoagulant, which could have drug-drug interactions with ivermectin, potentially increasing the risk of internal bleeding, the board documents noted.

In addition, Lin prescribed that patient a double dose of ivermectin so he could share it with his wife, who reported having COVID symptoms. Lin couldn't prescribe the drug directly to her because only the husband was registered for the virtual visit. He prescribed the double dose so she could take half of the pills, the document stated.

Neither patient took the ivermectin after discussing it with their son.

In another instance, Lin prescribed ivermectin to a 71-year-old woman who was COVID-positive. After taking the drug for 4 days, her symptoms didn't improve, and she eventually was hospitalized with pneumonia.

Lin also prescribed ivermectin to a 37-year-old woman who said she developed symptoms after the COVID vaccine, including rash, chest pain, palpitations, weight loss, and fatigue. Lin "assessed these symptoms as concerning for persistent spike protein effects in the body leading to symptoms similar to long-term effects of COVID-19" and prescribed ivermectin, according to the board.

Finally, he prescribed ivermectin to a 67-year-old patient who simply asked for it, with no other information documented.

Going forward, Lin won't be able to prescribe ivermectin for non-FDA-approved indications, and he's not allowed to prescribe medications to patients without having an in-person or video appointment first (some of the cases mentioned above involved only phone calls).

He'll have to take 3 hours of CME on the prevention, treatment, and management of COVID, along with a CME course on the physician-patient relationship and maintaining medical records, within 6 months. He'll then have to submit two papers of at least 1,000 words each on what he learned on both topics.

Lin will also have to adhere to compliance audits and submit personal reports about compliance with the board's order. After 3 years, he can petition for an end to the oversight.

Kadlec Regional Medical Center had not responded to a ľֱ request for comment as of press time, but that it fully cooperated with the board's investigation.

"While Kadlec does not recommend or allow ivermectin for the prevention or treatment of COVID-19, we respect the rights of patients and physicians to discuss and explore all available treatment options, based on patients' unique health and medical situations," the statement said.

Four other doctors in Washington state are suing the medical board, challenging its position on COVID misinformation. Three of those doctors hold active licenses in the state, but are facing disciplinary action related to their alleged inappropriate care of COVID patients. A fourth previously gave up her Washington license last year.

Overall, few clinicians have been disciplined for actions taken during the COVID pandemic.

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    Kristina Fiore leads MedPage’s enterprise & investigative reporting team. She’s been a medical journalist for more than a decade and her work has been recognized by Barlett & Steele, AHCJ, SABEW, and others. Send story tips to k.fiore@medpagetoday.com.