By the Editorial Board
If there’s one bill this legislative session that deserves Gov. Mike Parson’s unhesitating veto, it’s Bill 2149. The bill, passed by both the State House and Senate , is actually a gag that prevents pharmacists in Missouri from doing their jobs when patients come to them seeking cures for the quack coronavirus.
Normally, pharmacists are professionally and legally required to perform a series of follow-up steps when they suspect that a prescription might be harmful or medically inappropriate. But House Bill 2149 providers really don’t care what pharmacists think about pandemic policy.
The primary concern of GOP lawmakers who approved this measure is finding the right prescription for their own re-election. They determined that the best solution was not to protect the health of their constituents, but to let them pursue the myth that the drugs Ivermectin and hydroxycholoroquine are effective against the coronavirus.
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These drugs gained popularity among President Donald Trump’s base after he touted hydroxycholoquine as a supposed cure during one of his nationally televised press briefings at the start of the pandemic. It was also around this time that Trump also asked the two real doctors in the room if injecting disinfectant could also fight the coronavirus. The great irony is that, by touting bogus cures, Trump has helped undermine public acceptance of the truly effective coronavirus vaccines that his accelerated development program has produced in record time.
Missouri pharmacists may soon be required by law to fill prescriptions for ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine — the former an antiparasitic drug and the latter a treatment for rheumatoid arthritis — even though pharmacists know patients don’t suffer from any condition that these drugs are approved to treat. Under HB 2149, the person prescribing the drugs cannot be held professionally responsible for directing “human use in accordance with the prescriber’s instructions” – regardless of those instructions.
The bill also prohibits pharmacists from contacting “the prescribing physician or patient to dispute the efficacy” of the two drugs unless the physician or patient seeks the pharmacist’s advice.
As Webster Groves pharmacist John J. Ponzillo writes on Sunday’s opinion page, the overuse of certain drugs can lead to serious and harmful side effects, which is why drugs — including coronavirus treatments – must undergo rigorous testing before being approved by the federal government. He and other professionals say there is no evidence to support using these drugs for anything other than Food and Drug Administration-approved uses.
Anything less than that would violate the doctor’s main saying of doing no harm. This bill would force medical professionals to elevate quack science to levels of acceptance it does not deserve or ignore the law to maintain their professional integrity. The governor should save them from having to choose by vetoing this bill and throwing it in the trash where it belongs.