A bill from the Missouri state legislature would block pharmacists from questioning and potentially blocking prescriptions for ivermectin or hydroxychloroquine.
The measure that would put this rule into effect was included in HB 2149, a bill that largely relates to professional licensing. The bill passed the Missouri State House by an overwhelming majority on Thursday, 130-4, according to the Kansas City Star. It will now be sent to Republican Gov. Mike Parson’s office for potential signing into law.
As worded, the bill would prohibit state pharmacists from contacting patients or physicians “to challenge the efficacy of ivermectin tablets or hydroxychloroquine sulfate tablets for human use.” The measure also prevents doctors who “legally” prescribe either drug from being stripped of their professional license or otherwise punished.
Ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine rose to prominence during the pandemic as potential treatments for COVID-19 and gained popularity among anti-vaccination advocates. Neither drug has been approved by the FDA to treat COVID, and several accredited studies have indicated that the drugs may be harmful to patients in some cases. A recent study also found that ivermectin in particular is no more effective against the virus than a placebo.
The measure was added to HB 2149 by Sen. Rick Brattin, a Republican lawmaker from Harrisonville, Missouri. Brattin, who admitted to buying ivermectin for himself in the past, said he heard many doctors worry about the possibility of losing their prescription drug license.
“Unfortunately, because of the politicization of these two drugs, [doctors are] being targeted,” Brattin explained to The Kansas City Star. “I wanted to protect them from that.”
The measure also drew heavy criticism, especially from Democrats.
“…The Missouri Legislature chose to ‘own the libs’ by issuing a gag order against every pharmacist in that state not to offer their medical opinion on taking either of these drugs, even though it might kill their patient,” Lindsey Simmons, a former U.S. House candidate and Democrat, tweeted on Thursday. “Pharmacists can be punished for informing the patient of the risks of the drug, but not for simply giving it to him. And for an authoritarian government that wants to be “pro-life” and for “freedom of expression”, they proposed a law that prohibits one + could end the other.
Rep. Patty Lewis, a Democratic state legislator and a member of the committee that drafted the bill, told the Star that the measure was added in order to appease far-right elements in the state Senate.
Ivermectin is traditionally prescribed as an antiparasitic for patients struggling with things like worms, and may also be useful for head lice and for skin conditions like rosacea. Hydroxychloroquine is typically used to treat malaria and has also been used against conditions such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis.
Newsweek contacted Governor Parson’s office for comment.