Two women have filed lawsuits alleging their husbands died from negligence at Inland Empire hospitals after doctors prescribed  remdesivir to treat COVID-19 and then failed to tell them about dangerous side effects of the anti-viral drug.

The lawsuits, filed last month in state court against Kaiser Permanente Riverside Medical Center and Redlands Community Hospital and several of their physicians, allege doctors engaged in fraud by prescribing each of the men remdesivir without their knowledge or consent. Doctors also allegedly failed to explain that the drug is ineffective in treating COVID-19, is toxic to kidneys and can cause death, the complaints say.

“In COVID-19 healthcare circles across the country, remdesivir has carried the nickname ‘Run, death is near,’ ” said the civil complaint, which seeks unspecifed damages. “Remdesivir is medically unnecessary for treatment of COVID-19.”

The World Health Organization issued a recommendation in November 2020 against the use of remdesivir regardless of disease severity, saying there is no evidence the drug improves survival or shortens recovery.

Additionally, the National Institutes of Health said individuals with kidney impairment or failure may experience liver or kidney toxicity due to the release of sulfobutylether beta-cyclodextrin sodium contained in remdesivir.

Gilead Sciences, which manufactures remdesivir under the brand name Veklury, said it welcomes oversight by WHO and maintains the drug is an effective treatment for COVID-19.

“Veklury is playing a critical role in the pandemic by helping to prevent disease progression and enabling patients to recover faster,” the company said in a statement. “Veklury is recommended worldwide in both mild-to-moderate and severe COVID-19 disease by several key guidelines in more than 40 countries.”

Christina Briones alleges in one of the lawsuits that her 50-year-old husband, Rodney Briones, had a low chance of dying from COVID-19 when he developed symptoms of the virus on Aug. 1, 2021. However, as his symptoms worsened, he sought treatment from Kaiser Permanente as a walk-in patient on Aug. 10, the complaint states.

There, a physician gave him some ineffective medication and sent him home. The doctor allegedly did not prescribe a safe, multidrug treatment therapy for Briones or refer him to a specialist, the suit alleges.

“Had the Kaiser Riverside physician provided safe multi-drug early treatment to Rodney, referred him to a safe multi-drug early treatment specialist, or disclosed the availability of safe multi-drug early treatment to Rodney, he would have recovered from COVID-19,” the lawsuit states.

Briones continued to deteriorate and, on Aug. 12 returned by ambulance to Kaiser, where he was admitted and prescribed a five-day regimen of remdesivir, the suit says.

A few days later, his kidneys began to fail and he was placed on a ventilator. He died Sept. 12.

“It was medical negligence to administer remdesivir to Rodney 12 days after manifestation of COVID-19 symptoms,” the suit states. “The drug does not help patients with COVID-19 survive and does not shorten the recovery time of those patients who do survive; but it does cause serious side effects and death.”

Kaiser Permanente extended sympathy to Briones’ family, but declined to comment on the allegations in the lawsuit.

“While we cannot comment on personal health information or the specific circumstances of this case, our physicians and dedicated healthcare professionals are committed to providing the highest quality health care for our patients in a safe and equitable manner and in accordance with all federal and state guidelines,” the company said in a statement.

“Treatments for COVID-19 continue to evolve rapidly, and we prescribe care that is intended to provide the best clinical outcomes based on current knowledge and their individual needs.”

In the second lawsuit, Evangeline Ortega alleges her healthy 65-year-old husband, Armando Ortega, was administered remdesivir at Redlands Community Hospital, without being told the drug was dangerous and medically unnecessary to treat COVID-19.

Remdesivir caused Armando Ortega to suffer kidney and multiple organ failure, resulting in his death on Jan 6, 2021, the suit alleges.

Redlands Community Hospital officials declined to comment because litigation is pending.

Attorneys Matthew Tyson and Bryan Garrie, who represent both plaintiffs, also filed a lawsuit in connection with another alleged remdesivir-related death at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica. And they plan to file similar lawsuits within the next week against Corona Regional Medical Center and Kindred Hospital Rancho in Rancho Cucamonga.

“Physicians are killing hospitalized COVID-19 patients by eliminating choice of treatment and using a deadly protocol without patient knowledge or consent,” Tyson said. “We are helping victims to raise public awareness and hold the physicians and hospitals accountable for this atrocity.”

California

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