Former state rep faces child neglect charges for giving children ivermectin as COVID-19 treatment

  • Rep. JR Hoell gives testimony during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing at the State House in Concord, Thursday, Jan. 29, 2015. ELIZABETH FRANTZ

  • Hoell

Monitor staff
Published: 1/19/2022 4:13:19 PM

Former state Rep. J.R. Hoell said he is facing neglect charges after attempting to treat his children’s COVID-19 illness with ivermectin, a drug that’s not approved by any federal agency for coronavirus prevention or treatment.

Hoell, of Dunbarton, has been a leading voice in the group RebuildNH, formerly known as ReopenNH, which has been critical of sweeping mandates that closed businesses and required individuals to wear masks in public places.

He said the investigation into him and his family is misplaced.

“No family in the state of New Hampshire should be subjected to what they’re sending us through when there is no merit to the case,” Hoell said. “DCYF needs to focus on the families that are actually neglecting and abusing their children.”

He said he first bought ivermectin from abroad via a now-defunct website called buyivermectin.us and took the drug regularly for many weeks to avoid catching the virus.

When his two children contracted COVID-19 in mid-November, Hoell said he doled out the medication based on weight-based doses that the pharmaceutical company MERCK published for treating parasitic infections in humans. (MERCK published an advisory that there is not sufficient data to support using the drug to treat COVID-19).

Hoell said his family recovered from their symptoms by Thanksgiving. Then, on Dec. 4, a couple of weeks later, Hoell said his 13-year-old son thought he had taken too much Tylenol, which prompted the family to call poison control and then bring him to the hospital. Blood tests showed no evidence of Tylenol or ivermectin in his blood, Hoell said.

He said his son hadn’t been sleeping well in the days leading up to the incident, which could have explained why he was concerned about taking too much pain-reliever.

“I think he was exhausted. We told the nurse that he had several sleepless nights that he was anxious because he hadn’t been spending time with his friends,” Hoell said. “That is what the primary diagnosis that should have been.”

Shortly after, Division for Children Youth & Families case workers contacted him with concerns about his use of ivermectin for non-prescribed use, which Hoell told nurses about while at the hospital.

Sympathetic strangers have raised more than $35,000 on a Christian crowd sourcing website to help Hoell pay for legal bills. Hoell said his son is still living at home and the family will attend a court hearing by the end of the week. He believes DCYF is seeking out-of-home placement for his eldest son.

Hoell said he is aware of a handful of other cases in which families have fielded visits from child protection workers due to their use of ivermectin. Jake Leon, a spokesperson for the N.H. Department of Health, said he is unable to comment on the veracity of those claims.

“DCYF has a legal obligation to investigate allegations of child abuse and neglect,” Leon said. “Use of a prescription medication as recommended by a licensed physician would not constitute child abuse or neglect.”

Across the country, demand for ivermectin has peaked as some believe the drug will cure COVID-19, despite little evidence to support that claim. In New Hampshire, the drug was in such high demand during the summer that farmers had trouble finding animal-grade ivermectin for their livestock.

Caroline Cornish, a spokesperson for the Northern New England Poison Center, said ivermectin-related calls have increased from 16 calls in 2019 to 28 calls in 2021 across New Hampshire, Vermont, and Maine. The increase is mostly due to people using ivermectin inappropriately to treat or prevent COVID, she said.

Veterinary formulas of ivermectin are often highly concentrated and dangerous for human consumption. Ivermectin overdoses can cause vomiting, diarrhea, hallucinations, seizures, coma, and in extreme situations, death. Even doses prescribed for human use can interact with medications, like blood-thinners, and cause a variety of adverse reactions.

“There’s a lot of misinformation around, and you may have heard that it’s okay to take large doses of ivermectin,” a press release from the U.S Food and Drug Administration read. “That is wrong.”

On Tuesday, the House Health, Human Services & Elderly Affairs Committee considedred a bill that would make ivermectin more accessible to the public at pharmacies via a sweeping standing order. Similar standing orders have made naloxone, commonly referred to by its brand name, Narcan, readily available over the counter.

“I bring you this bill as an attempt to make New Hampshire the first state in this country to make ivermectin easily available without a prescription,” said the bill’s primary sponsor Rep. Leah Cushman, a Weare Republican.

A representative from Dartmouth-Hitchcock spoke in opposition to the bill, noting the state’s largest medical network believed the bill was not in the best interest of the public, as ivermectin has not been approved by any federal agency for COVID-19 use.


Teddy Rosenbluth bio photo

Teddy Rosenbluth is a Report for America corps member covering health care issues for the Concord Monitor since spring 2020. She has covered science and health care for Los Angeles Magazine, the Santa Monica Daily Press and UCLA's Daily Bruin, where she was a health editor and later magazine director. Her investigative reporting has brought her everywhere from the streets of Los Angeles to the hospitals of New Delhi. Her work garnered first place for Best Enterprise News Story from the California Journalism Awards, and she was a national finalist for the Society of Professional Journalists Best Magazine Article. She graduated from UCLA with a bachelor’s degree in psychobiology.



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