“Medical Freedom”: Republican Bill Forces Pharmacies to Fill Unauthorized Drug Prescriptions | Coronavirus


GOP bills protect doctors prescribing unapproved drugs

MADISON (WKOW) — Republican lawmakers introduced bills Wednesday that would require pharmacies to fill a prescription they receive from a doctor, except in extreme circumstances.

Another bill would prohibit health systems and credentialing boards from disciplining doctors for speaking out loud opinions contrary to generally accepted guidelines.

The bill’s sponsors said they promote medical freedom, inviting Dr. Daniel Koster, a family medicine specialist from Green Bay to speak. Koster said that over the past year, a pharmacy refused to fill a prescription he wrote for ivermectin. Koster declined to answer whether it was for a patient who had COVID-19 or was trying to prevent infection.

The Food & Drug Administration did not authorize ivermectin to treat or prevent COVID-19; the drug is approved in humans for the treatment of conditions caused by parasitic worms and head lice. The FDA says the best available data does not show that ivermectin is effective against COVID-19.

Koster and the bill’s sponsors argued that this shouldn’t mean that individual patients and doctors should always be able to use “new” treatments if they agreed it was best in a particular circumstance.

“Independent thinking, challenging the status quo, and being able to discuss our views with patients, colleagues, and the public,” Koster said. “This is what we are fighting for.”

Dr. Jerry Halverson, who chairs the board of the Wisconsin Medical Society, said in an interview Wednesday while he agrees the patient-doctor relationship is worth protecting, there are times when a prescription is influenced by a patient’s desire to be prescribed a specific drug, which may have been prompted by inaccurate or incomplete information.

“There’s always this concern about unintended consequences and we’ve had experiences in the past where we have patients who drive these prescriptions and things can — things don’t always work well in those situations,” Halverson said.

Under the bill, pharmacies could only refuse a prescription if they found that the patient suffered from a condition that made the prescribed drug “inadvisable in all circumstances”.

Halverson said it could require pharmacies to fill prescriptions for abortion or hormone medication that a pharmacist might object to on religious grounds.

Another bill would prohibit health systems and licensing boards from disciplining doctors who may have spoken openly against mainstream medical advice.

The bill’s author, Rep. Shae Sortwell (R-Two Rivers), said outside agencies or even hospital systems themselves should not censor individual physicians.

“I will trust [doctors] before trusting the systems and, yes, I’m sorry, before trusting the pharmacists,” Sortwell said. “These are not the people and experts in primary health care that we have relied on for thousands of years.

Halverson said he hasn’t heard from any Wisconsin doctors who claim to have been disciplined for their public comments. He added that it was incorrect to say that such decisions would be made by bureaucrats since these boards and committees are made up of doctors.

“The idea that there is some kind of system to make that decision, that the CEO of a system makes that decision based on politics or whatever is generally not what happens,” said Halverson said. “What happens is the medical leadership makes those decisions.”

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