Controversial Saint Lucian activist, politician and medical doctor, Dr. Gilbertha St. Rose, has probably become the first Caribbean doctor to be fined and have her license suspended for prescribing and delivering the unapproved Ivermectin drug to patients as a cure for COVID-19.
Dr. St Rose, known for challenging the Status Quo, has been fined $10,000 and her license suspended for six months, with a right to appeal and apologize, cease; she has also been asked to desist from promoting and distributing the drug, which is not approved by the World Health Organization (WHO).
The St. Lucia Medical and Dental Council initiated action against the local doctor earlier this year after she ignored formal instructions by the Ministry of Health to stop peddling and prescribing Ivermectin.
Dr. St. Rose chose to contest the instructions legally and engaged an attorney to represent her in the proceedings before the Council, with the knowledge that her license to practice was at stake. The medical practitioner also chose to launch and participate in public activities aimed at galvanizing support for her cause, insisting the unapproved drug works and therefore justified her actions.
The doctor’s supporters have also mounted flash unapproved placard-bearing protests in Castries in her defense, claiming — even without police permission — their actions did not violate the law.
The Council, headed by Dr. Andre Matthew, has written to Dr. St Rose informing her of its decisions and invited her to pay the fine within 30 days.
The Council also informed Dr. St Rose that she can, at any time before the end of the suspension, formally request, in writing, a review of its decisions – and that such a request be accompanied by a written commitment to cease and desist from recommending and/or distributing Ivermectin.
The Council’s decision was largely expected in light of the nature of the charge and the accused doctor’s clear defiance of the laws governing medical practitioners; some have argued that her actions violated the Hippocratic Oath to save lives.
The Ivermectin debate here has been ongoing with proponents demonstrating an open preparedness to challenge the law.
Ivermectin is indeed recognized by at least 20 nations out of the 193 member-states of the United Nations, which recognize the WHO as the world’s leading authority for approving medicines to fight COVID-19.
The doctor’s supporters say the Council’s decision was heavy-handed, while her critics say the former candidate in the 2021 General Elections ought to show better judgment as one offering herself for public office.
Meanwhile, Dr. St. Rose has acknowledged being formally informed of the Council’s decision and told the press she was planning to respond at a press conference.
The unsuccessful former National Green Party (NGP) candidate for the Choiseul constituency and supporters are expected to protest the Council’s decision.