KANSAS CITY, Kan. — COVID-19 case counts are falling regionally but the discussion on how it should be treated continues at the Kansas statehouse.
On Tuesday, for the first time, members of the Kansas Senate Public Health and Welfare Committee reviewed a bill that would require a pharmacist to fill prescriptions for certain drugs, even if the pharmacist doesn’t think it will work.
Leaders in the University of Kansas Health System are criticizing the legislation saying that studies that did show benefits for the drugs have been retracted for falsifying data. Authors of those studies have also been punished, according to Dr. Dana Hawkinson, infectious disease specialist for the University of Kansas Health System.
The bill is being pushed by Republican State Senator Mark Steffen of Hutchinson. The bill said that if a patient has a prescription for a drug for off-label use to treat COVID-19, a pharmacist cannot reject that prescription.
It also says a patient cannot sue a prescriber or pharmacist if a patient takes it and something goes wrong. It would create immunity for civil liability for damages and administrative fines for prescribers and pharmacists.
“This is anything but unique,” Steffen said briefly of his proposed legislation during the committee meeting.
But doctors in the University of Kansas Health System say this is an example of the Kansas legislature wanting to practice medicine.
“What the Kansas legislation is trying to say is ‘Well, if you want to use Ivermectin for COVID even though that’s off-label use…’ and let’s be honest, even though the overwhelming weight of scientific evidence says that it doesn’t work and it may even be harmful to you because this is really a drug meant for parasites…what happens is that the Kansas legislature is now saying that you can’t be held responsible for any bad outcome,” said Dr. Steve Stites, Chief Medical Officer for the University of Kansas Health System.
But in Topeka, nearly a dozen doctors are poised to speak in favor of the legislation on Wednesday. Some were miffed that this committee did not hear testimony Tuesday.
“We do have a hearing scheduled all day tomorrow as well,” Sen. Richard Hilderbrand, (R) Galena, said while adjourning the meeting.
“Excuse me, we have doctors here who had to cancel their patients today to be here. I don’t know if they can come back tomorrow. They care about their patients,” a voice from the gallery said.
“Ma’am I do care about that but unfortunately there is another meeting here right after ours,” Hilderbrand said.
The bill would also retroactively seek to reverse disciplinary action taken against people prescribing the drugs and the people filling the scripts. It would basically wipe records clean that might have detailed “unprofessional conduct.”