Winnipeg doctor censured for ivermectin prescription, COVID-19 vaccine info not supported

A Winnipeg doctor has been officially censured for prescribing a drug primarily used to deworm cattle to a patient who had just received a COVID-19 vaccine, as well as providing unscientific information about the vaccine to a child and his parents.

The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Manitoba sanctioned Dr. Wilhelmus Grobler by releasing its decision, dated June 29.

In addition to having the censorship on his public record, Grobler was also ordered to pay $6,165 to cover the costs of the investigation.

In the ruling, the college says it first became concerned in the fall of 2020 about information Grobler posted in his clinic and disseminated to patients “in which he expressed his personal views on COVID-19.”

Grobler also expressed concerning views in a lengthy letter to Manitoba’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, which he shared with two patients and others.

The college determined that Grobler’s opinions were not supported by evidence, or contradicted scientific evidence or the recommendations of public health officials.

At least one of Grobler’s statements violated the college’s code of ethics, relating to “Physicians and Society” section titles, according to the ruling.

Voluntary agreement signed

On October 30, 2020, Grobler signed a voluntary agreement pledging not to give information about COVID-19 that did not align with current public health guidelines.

Around June 2021, a 34-year-old patient came to Grobler about two weeks after receiving his first COVID-19 vaccine. The day after the injection, the patient went to a rural emergency room with mild chest pain and tightness, shortness of breath, and flu-like symptoms.

According to the college’s decision, Grobler suspected the patient may have myocarditis, a known complication of COVID-19 and a rare complication of COVID-19 vaccines.

All tests showed normal results, and while he is aware of the skepticism of public health officials regarding the safety and effectiveness of ivermectin, a pest control agent primarily for deworming livestock, to treat COVID- 19, Grobler prescribed it anyway.

A form of ivermectin has been approved for use in humans and has helped eradicate diseases such as river blindness in several countries. However, there is no evidence that the human or veterinary form of ivermectin is safe or effective when used to treat COVID-19, according to Health Canada.

Grobler told the college “he was trying to meet patient demand and thought it wouldn’t cause harm and might even have a placebo effect.”

New standards published

The college released new standards for ivermectin use on September 3, 2021, asking people not to take the drug to treat COVID-19 after demand spiked due to unproven claims that the drug could be used to treat COVID-19.

Although the patient encounter took place in June 2021, the college said Grobler was aware of the opinion of public health officials on the college’s decision.

“In this scenario, the onus was on Dr. Grobler to provide care to the expected standard. He failed to meet that standard when he prescribed ivermectin without sufficient evidence of efficacy and access pressure of the patient,” the decision reads.

In September 2021, Grobler met with a preteen child and his parents to discuss the COVID-19 vaccine. One parent supported the vaccine, while the other did not, according to the college’s decision.

At the reunion, Grobler did not wear a mask and allowed one of the parents to remove his.

In response to questions about the vaccine, the doctor shared information “not considered scientifically sound and providing information from unreliable sources.”

Grobler currently practices at the South Sherbrooke Health Center. CBC News called the clinic and asked Grobler for comment, but has yet to hear back.

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