Missouri bill bars pharmacists from questioning ivermectin effectiveness
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Missouri lawmakers this week passed legislation that appears to bar pharmacists from questioning doctors who prescribe the controversial off-label drugs ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine for patients.
The measure, which passed the House on a resounding 130-4 vote this week, was tucked into a bill related to professional licensing. After passing both chambers, the bill now heads to Gov. Mike Parson’s desk.
According to its language, the bill would prevent state medical licensing boards from punishing or taking away the medical licenses of doctors who “lawfully” 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 drugs’ effectiveness.
Sen. Rick Brattin, a Harrisonville Republican, told The Star Thursday he added the amendment after he spoke with doctors who worried they would lose their medical licenses for prescribing the drugs. Brattin, who said he previously bought ivermectin for COVID-19 but has never taken it, described the drug as “politicized.”
“Unfortunately, because of the politicization of those two drugs, (doctors are) being targeted,” he said. “I wanted to protect them from that.”
The bill, specifically Brattin’s amendment, swiftly drew criticism on social media from people who pointed to the fact that the Federal Drug Administration has not approved ivermectin for treating COVID-19. The drug is authorized for humans to treat infections caused by parasitic worms, head lice and skin conditions like rosacea.
The agency has received multiple reports of people who have been hospitalized after taking ivermectin intended for livestock, according to its website.
“The Missouri legislature has chosen to ‘own the libs’ by issuing a gag order against every pharmacist in this state from offering their medical opinion on taking either one of those medications — even if it could kill their patient,” former U.S. House candidate Lindsey Simmons wrote on Twitter.
Rep. Patty Lewis, a Kansas City Democrat who served on the committee that handled the bill, told The Star Thursday that Democrats agreed to the language in the bill to satisfy a group of hard-right conservatives in the Senate.
She said the parts of the bill relating to the two drugs will not change anything in the medical community. She said medical licensing boards already would not punish a doctor for prescribing a drug lawfully.
“This language, with a few buzzwords, is to keep some difficult, obstinate, conservative senators quiet,” she said. “It’s not necessary, it’s not needed. It’s ‘do nothing’ language only to make sure the bill does not fail in the Senate.”