KANSAS CITY, Kan. (WDAF) — On Wednesday, Kansas lawmakers continued their discussion on off-label drug use — specifically, the drugs ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine.
Two proposals are at the statehouse. Senate Bill 308 would mandate doctors give those prescriptions simply if a patient asks for them for use in COVID-19-therapy. Senate Bill 381 would require pharmacists to fill those prescriptions.
Also, on Wednesday, the University of Kansas Health System sent a letter to lawmakers on the Senate Public Health and Welfare Committee saying that they oppose the legislation.
Doctors with the University of Kansas Health System said the bills shift the doctor-patient relationship. They also called the bill unsafe.
Senate Bill 381 was brought by state Senator Mark Steffen, a Republican from Hutchinson, Kansas. He is also a doctor. He said during his testimony that he is currently under investigation by the Kansas Board of Healing Arts and has been for the last year and a half.
“Yesterday was interesting. We definitely got out of the gates but didn’t get anything accomplished. What it did give was give the media a 24-hour head start on us,” Steffen said, giving a packet to fellow lawmakers.
“There’s vetted anonymous testimonies of doctors who’ve been intimidated, fired and professionally belittled in prescribing these medications in the attempt to help relieve suffering and prevent death,” Steffen said.
“If you’re fortunate enough to find a brave provider who will defy the medical tyranny at great risk, the next roadblock is the Kansas pharmacist who refuses to fill Ivermectin and Hydroxychloroquine prescriptions because the pharmacist has received vague threats from the Kansas State Board of Pharmacy,” Dr. Festus Krebs III, a proponent of Ivermectin, said during his testimony.
The drugs are favorites among vaccine critics who want to protect themselves from COVID-19. Testimony attempted to change that characterization.
“It’s not ‘instead of’, and I think that’s the misconception. That it’s instead of a vaccine or that it’s instead of some other sort of medicine or approach. It’s not,” Dr. Jesse Lopez, another Ivermectin proponent, said during testimony.
“A lot of this propaganda and broad sweeping statements are being made by the KU Health System employed doctors,” Steffen said.
“And Dr. [Steve] Stites is one of those doctors. He kind of serves at the Kansas Dr. Fauci,” Steffen said.
Stites does not work for the government. He is the chief medical officer for the University of Kansas Health System. He said that the bill is bad news and that the treatments are not evidence-based.
“So what the legislature’s essentially doing is saying ‘OK Doc, you may think you know your doctor-patient relationship. You may know your patient. But we know better, and we’re going to make the judgment — not you — about whether or not you must give a medication,” Stites said.
“That makes me feel really bad,” Stites said.
“Currently the evidence-based medicine around things like Ivermectin, Hydroxychloroquine — when you take out all those biases and articles that have been retracted or their authors have been reprimanded — it shows no benefit to be receiving those either for prophylaxis or treatment against COVID-19,” Dr. Dana Hawkinson, infectious disease specialist for the University of Kansas Health System, said.
“Mandation through state law is very concerning to me and I believe should be concerning to all physicians in the state of Kansas,” Dr. Kevin Dishman, chief medical officer at Stormont Vail Health, said.
The bill, in its current form, also gives legal immunity to doctors and pharmacists if a patient has a bad reaction to off-label use of COVID-19 treatment. Basically, you would not be able to sue them if something went wrong.
Patients currently are able to get a prescription for these drugs — they just need to work with a doctor who will write the prescription and also find a pharmacist who will fill it.
One issue for the people giving testimony was that they do not want the pushback that they are currently receiving — especially from the larger health care and pharmacy systems.