(Missouri Independent) – A bill signed into law by Gov. Mike Parson Tuesday will shield healthcare providers from losing their medical licenses when prescribing ivermectin or hydroxychloroquine, two medications that have not been shown to be effective in treating COVID-19.
The language was included in a bill dealing with professional licensing regulations, and it was not highlighted in Parson’s news release announcing his decision to sign it and laying out its various provisions.
The bill stipulates that the act of “lawfully” dispensing or prescribing ivermectin or hydroxychloroquine for human use cannot be cited as grounds for disciplinary action by the State Board of Registration for the Healing Arts or Board of Pharmacy.
Additionally, a pharmacist cannot contact the prescribing physician to dispute the efficacy of the medications, “unless the physician or patient inquires of the pharmacist” themselves about their effectiveness.
Despite opposition from some Democratic senators, Sen. Rick Brattin, R-Harrisonville, was successful in attaching the amendment to the bill in April.
Brattin said during Senate debate at the time that the proposal was necessary to ensure “the weaponization of the board of healing arts does not occur with our physicians” over the two medications that he said have become “extremely politicized.”
Brattin, who is running for the Republican nomination in the 4th Congressional District primary, said he had heard from physicians who asked for such protections. In response to a rise in the drugs’ notoriety, advocacy groups of medical professionals have called on medical boards to take disciplinary actions against doctors spreading misinformation about COVID-19 treatments.
“I think that this is the kind of legislation to me that is very short-sighted,” Sen. Jill Schupp, D-Creve Coeur, said in opposition to the provision.
Hydroxychloroquine, which is typically used to treat malaria or the autoimmune disease lupus, was promoted as a COVID-19 treatment by former President Donald Trump, who said he himself had taken it.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has cautioned against taking the drug outside of hospital settings or clinical trials, pointing to “serious heart rhythm problems in patients with COVID-19” who took the drug in combination with other medications.
The FDA has also urged against taking the antiparasitic medication ivermectin to treat COVID-19. The drug can be used on livestock, and Missouri’s health department warned against its use last year after receiving reports of people ingesting it to prevent a COVID-19 infection.
According to the August 2021 health alert, the Missouri Poison Center had managed at least 22 cases so far that year compared to 2 cases in 2020, “where an individual intentionally has ingested a prescription product or a veterinary formulation not intended for human use.”
The provisions of the bill regarding ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine go into effect on Aug. 28.