JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Missouri lawmakers this week passed legislation that appears to ban pharmacists from interviewing doctors who prescribe the controversial off-label drugs ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine to patients.
The measure, which passed the House by a resounding 130-4 vote this week, has been incorporated into a professional licensing bill. After passing both chambers, the bill is now heading to Governor Mike Parson’s office.
By its wording, the bill would prevent state medical licensing commissions from punishing or revoking the medical licenses of doctors who “legally” prescribe the two drugs. And it prevents pharmacists from contacting a doctor or patient “to dispute the efficacy of ivermectin tablets or hydroxychloroquine sulfate tablets for human use” unless the doctor or patient asks about the drug efficacy.
Sen. Rick Brattin, a Republican from Harrisonville, told The Star on Thursday that he added the amendment after speaking with doctors who feared losing their medical license for prescribing the drugs. Brattin, who said he once bought ivermectin for COVID-19 but never took it, described the drug as “politicized.”
“Unfortunately, due to the politicization of these two drugs, (doctors are) targeted,” he said. “I wanted to protect them from that.”
The bill, particularly Brattin’s amendment, quickly drew criticism on social media from people who pointed out that the Federal Drug Administration has not approved ivermectin for the treatment of COVID. -19. The drug is licensed for humans to treat infections caused by parasitic worms, head lice, and skin conditions like rosacea.
The agency has received several reports of people being hospitalized after taking ivermectin intended for livestock, according to its website.
“The Missouri Legislature chose to ‘own the libs’ by issuing a gag order against all pharmacists in that state not to offer their medical advice on taking any of these drugs – even if it could kill their patient,” said former U.S. House candidate Lindsey. Simmons wrote on Twitter.
Rep. Patty Lewis, a Kansas City Democrat who served on the bill’s committee, told The Star on Thursday that Democrats agreed to the bill’s wording to satisfy a group of far-right conservatives in the Senate.
She said the parts of the bill relating to the two drugs would not change anything in the medical community. She said medical licensing boards would already not punish a doctor for prescribing a drug legally.
“This language, along with a few buzzwords, is meant to silence some tough, stubborn Conservative senators,” she said. “It is not necessary, it is not necessary. It’s “do nothing” language just to make sure the bill doesn’t fail in the Senate.
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