A bill drafted by Rep. Phil Jensen, R-Rapid City, that reaffirms a physician’s right to use ivermectin for patients passed the state House of Representatives on Monday by a vote of 40 to 28, but only after the bill was amended to require prescription.
In its original form, HB 1267 would have allowed medical professionals to dispense ivermectin to patients with or without a prior prescription.
Jensen’s original bill allowing ivermectin to be dispensed with or without a prior prescription faced opposition from the South Dakota State Medical Association, the South Dakota Academy of Family Physicians, and Sioux-based Sanford Health. Falls.
During a Feb. 10 hearing before the House Health and Human Services Committee, Jensen said he authored the bill because he had heard that some medical providers were facing backlash for prescribing ivermectin to patients with COVID-19.
“This bill would provide immediate relief to frontline physicians by protecting them from retaliation and enabling the use of another viable means to treat and prevent the spread of SARS-CoV-2,” Jensen said.
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During his testimony, Kevin Hunter, a Rapid City resident, said he spent four months in the hospital with COVID-19 and was treated with remdesivir and placed on a ventilator, both against his thank you. He said he wished he had ivermectin available to him, but his wife, Stephanie Hunter, said doctors refused to use the antiparasitic drug for off-label purposes.
“I was told over and over again, ‘If I give you this, I’ll lose my license, I’ll be fired,'” she said.
At the committee meeting, an amendment was discussed to remove the words “with or without a prescription” from Jensen’s bill and change the word “dispense” to “prescribe.” Members of the committee expressed concern that distributing ivermectin without a prescription could be dangerous.
Jensen opposed the amendment in committee.
“It would neutralize the bill,” Jensen said.
The amendment was not considered by the committee. The House Health and Human Services Committee passed Jensen’s original bill with a narrow 7-6 vote.
The full House of Representatives heard the bill on Monday. Rep. Fred Deutsch, R-Florence, moved the amendment to delete “with or without a prescription” and deleted the word “dispensing” to “prescribe.”
Rep. Paul Miskimins, R-Mitchell, is a retired dentist who opposed the bill even with the amendment. He called the bill “an attack on our health care system.”
“I don’t think it’s good policy for this body (the House) to take action on a specific drug. This is even more so when it comes to a drug that is to be used off-label” , Miskimins said. “I would ask you to trust the FDA, the Board of Pharmacy, and the medical community to keep our best interest of our public first.”
Rep. Taffy Howard, R-Rapid City, said she believes there’s a political reason why health care agencies and doctors aren’t allowed to authorize ivermectin to treat COVID- 19.
“Any argument against its use becomes purely political and probably also financial,” Howard said. “When a doctor and a patient agree on a treatment plan, it’s between them and it should stay between them.”
The amended bill passed the House of Representatives, with a vote of 40 to 28. Rapid City Republican Representatives Mike Derby, Becky Drury and Jess Olson voted against the bill, while Jensen, Howard and Republican Representatives Chris Johnson, Tina Mulally and Tony Randolph voted in favour.
The legislation is now heading to the Senate, where Sen. Julie Frye-Mueller, R-Rapid City, is the bill’s lead sponsor.
Ivermectin is an antiparasitic drug that has been used since the 1970s for veterinary infections. It was approved in 1987 as a treatment for human parasitic infections, and the two scientists who discovered the drug were awarded the Nobel Prize in 2015 “for their discoveries regarding a new therapy for infections caused by roundworm parasites,” the website says. of the Nobel Prize.
However, since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, some conservative commentators and a few doctors have touted ivermectin as a treatment for COVID-19. The off-label use of ivermectin in the treatment of patients with COVID-19 has not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration.
According to the FDA’s website, currently available data “does not show that ivermectin is effective against COVID-19,” although clinical trials are ongoing.
The National Institutes of Health said that for ivermectin to be effective in treating COVID-19, it “would require the administration of doses up to 100 times greater than those approved for use in humans.”
Ivermectin maker Merck released a statement saying its scientists are “carefully reviewing the results of all available and emerging studies of ivermectin for the treatment of COVID-19 for evidence of efficacy and safety.” . However, Merck notes that there is “no scientific basis for a potential therapeutic effect against COVID-19 from preclinical studies”, and that there was no “significant evidence” of clinical activity or of clinical effectiveness for COVID-19 patients. The drugmaker also questioned the safety risks of using ivermectin to treat COVID-19.
Contact Nathan Thompson at [email protected]