Kansas doctors dispute bill that would allow off-label prescriptions to treat COVID-19

Published: Jan. 26, 2022 at 3:19 PM CST
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KANSAS CITY, Kan. (WIBW) - Seventeen of Kansas’s highest level medical professionals came together to dispute a bill that would allow off-label prescriptions to treat COVID-19.

Seventeen Chief Medical Officers came together to discuss new legislation which would have serious impacts on the health care field during the University of Kansas Health System conference call on Wednesday, Jan. 26.

The group discussed Kansas Senate Bill 381, which would require pharmacists to fill any prescription for off-label use of a drug.

For example, using ivermectin to treat COVID-19.

Medical professionals within the KU Health System said they sent a letter to Chairman Richard Hilderbrand and members of the Public Health and Welfare Committee to oppose the move.

Dr. Steve Stites, CMO at KU Health, said articles that originally supported ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine had to be retracted for falsifying information.

“You can write off-label medications when there’s medical evidence that supports its use,” Stites said.

Dr. Dana Hawkinson, KU Health’s medical director of Infection Prevention and Control, raised questions of the legitimacy of the certification of those who are for the legislation.

“I’m not aware that any of those people wanting to do this are board-certified infectious disease specialists, pharmacologists, virologists or immunologists,” said Hawkinson.

He continued to state that evidence medicine rather than opinion-based medicine is best for everyone.

“I’m baffled at the intrusion to practicing medicine,” said Dr. Robert Freelove, CMO of Salina Regional Health Center. “That’s a pretty slippery slope to a pretty dangerous place.”

“If we’re going to require something, why not require something that we know works, like vaccines,” Dr. Freelove continued.

Dr. Kevin Dishman, CMO of Stormont Vail Health in Topeka said the bill should be concerning as it infringes upon the patient-physician relationship.

“The patient-physician relationship is sacred,” Dishman said. “To try to circumvent that process through mandation, through state law, is very concerning to me, and I believe it should be concerning to all physicians in the state of Kansas.”

Dr. Jennifer Schrimsher, an infectious disease physician at LMH Health and deputy public health officer for Douglas County, said pharmacists are a safety net for patients, and the bill could take that away.

“If I prescribe something that has a critical drug interaction with medication that I had no idea that patient was on, the pharmacist is the last line of protection for that patient,” said Schrimsher.

Senate Bill 381 was introduced on Monday, Jan. 24, and was referred to the Committee on Public Health and Welfare on Tuesday.

Other doctors on the call include:

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