Coronavirus

Kane judge denies request to allow controversial drug for Elgin couple in ‘critical’ condition fighting COVID-19

Maria and Sebastian Abbinanti of Elgin are in critical condition fighting COVID-19 at Amita Health St. Joseph Hospital. A lawyer for the couple's family has filed a lawsuit seeking to allow the couple's doctor to administer the drug ivermectin in hopes of saving their lives.

The parents of three young children remained in an intensive care unit in Elgin battling COVID-19 on Monday, after a Kane County judge denied an order that could have allowed them to receive a medication that their family and doctors believe might save their lives.

Attorney Patrick Walsh filed an emergency motion Dec. 15 in Kane County on behalf of Maria and Sebastian Abbinanti of Elgin, seeking ivermectin, a treatment their doctor and family members believe could help them. However, on Friday, Kane County Judge Robert Villa denied the temporary order that would have green-lit access to the drug.

Walsh responded by filing an expedited appeal of the order denying the temporary restraining order. The hospital has two days to respond to the appeal and then the court will rule within five days after that. No arguments will occur as part of this expedited appeal.

Meanwhile, the couple’s family continues to plead with administrators at Amita Health St. Joseph Hospital in Elgin to allow the couple’s treating physician, Dr. Sergei Lipov, to administer the medication.

Ivermectin is a drug approved for human use to treat infections caused by some parasitic worms, head lice and skin conditions such as rosacea. The Food and Drug Administration, however, has not approved or authorized the drug for use in preventing or treating COVID-19, according to FDA.gov.

A different formulation of the drug is used to treat or prevent parasites in animals as well.

“We are desperately trying to keep these two alive for their children’s sake,” Maria Abbinanti’s aunt Maria Faso said in a phone interview Sunday.

Sebastian Abbinanti, 41, was admitted into the hospital on Nov. 26. He was transferred to the ICU on Dec. 2, according to court records.

Maria Abbinanti, 40, mother of their three sons ages 4, 9 and 12, thought she was just dealing with stubborn allergies and did not go to the hospital when she began feeling sick, Faso said. She waited a few days and finally sought medical care at her family’s urging. She was admitted directly into the ICU on Nov. 29.

Faso said she hired Walsh last week in desperate hopes of allowing the couple to receive ivermectin, which she believes is the only chance to save their lives. It was Faso who first suggested the drug to the doctor after reading about it being used elsewhere.

She said she was “heartbroken” after hearing that the judge denied their motion on Friday.

“These are young adults with children and we have to do everything in our power … we have to do everything possible to save their lives. There is a lot of family and a lot of prayers.”

The children have not seen their parents since before Thanksgiving, Faso said.

“They are gravely, gravely ill,” Walsh said.

“Sebastian and Maria’s symptomology [were] immediately serious and they fell into a critical state,” Walsh wrote in his motion. “They were and remain intubated, sedated and breathing through ventilators. At this point there is nothing else [the hospital] can do… . The physicians caring for [the couple] have exhausted any remaining medical treatment for them and are in a perpetual state of observation.”

“The hospital is interfering with the doctor-patient relationship and usurping Dr. Lipov’s authority to prescribe care for his patient,” according to Walsh’s filing.

In a court filing, Lipov said he had consulted with a physician working in the ICU, and both doctors agreed that it is “very reasonable to initiate this drug in view of poor prognosis” for the couple.

However, when the doctors attempted to write the prescription they were told that it is against Amita Health’s and the hospital’s policy to administer the drug for treatment of COVID-19 patients. Ivermectin was taken out of the electronic prescription system and cannot be written at all, Lipov said in the document.

“Despite maximum effort” the couple are not improving, yet they are still forbidden from administering ivermectin, he said.

A hospital spokeswoman did not immediately return an email message through the hospital’s website seeking comment.

Walsh also said in the court papers that the family would not hold the hospital liable should the ivermectin not work or cause more harm.

In response, Joseph Monahan of the Monahan Law Group in Chicago who represents the hospital, said that the court “lacks the authority to grant” the temporary restraining order and “cannot force a hospital to administer a particular medication to a specific patient nor … judicially intervene and order a hospital to violate its institutional duties, state and federal law and accreditation standards regarding patient care and physician oversight.”

Monahan further noted that “governmental bodies and medical societies recommend against administering [medications] outside of a clinical trial and which is outside the standard of care for treatment of COVID-19 or its aftereffects.”

Walsh referenced a similar recent case in a DuPage County hospital where the family of a 71-year-old man sought a physician who was not on the hospital’s staff to prescribe ivermectin after doctors on staff at the hospital would not. The staff had done all they could do and nothing worked, Walsh said.

The family won, the man was given the drug and walked out of the hospital days later, Walsh said. The Abbinanti case should be “easier,” in that the hospital staff is saying to try the ivermectin, Walsh said.

“Someone at that hospital could be treated for head lice or other parasites, but they won’t give it for COVID-19,” Walsh said.

He said he is aware ivermectin is not approved by the FDA for the COVID-19 treatment, but that it has been used for various other treatments over the past 40 years with almost no deaths.

Walsh said Dr. Pierre Kory, an expert in the treatment of COVID-19 who has treated COVID-19 patients across the country, who fiercely touts ivermectin as a treatment for COVID-19. Kory testified in front of the U.S. Senate about nine months into the pandemic.

Kory said the use of ivermectin in the battle against the disease is “critical.”

“It has immense and potent anti-viral activity,” Kory told the Senate. “… It is proven to be a wonder drug. … [Ivermectin] obliterates transmission of this virus.”

“The family agreed to waive all liability against the hospital and its employees and anyone else involved in giving the ivermectin,” Walsh said Sunday. “So, then what is the reason, if the family wants it, the treating physician supports it, it is known to be a safe drug, shown some efficacy what reason is left? We don’t want these kids to lose their parents.”