When Dr. Mark Steffen, a state lawmaker and a medical doctor, prescribed ivermectin for a patient, a Dillons pharmacy in Hutchinson refused to fill it.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved ivermectin for human use. Long used to treat tropical diseases, it’s under fire as some physicians prescribe it to treat COVID-19.

Dillons pharmacy and corporate communications for Kroger, owners of Dillons stores, did not return phone calls from the Sentinel.

Studies suggest ivermectin reduces the duration of COVID-19, but additional studies are ongoing. To date, there are 31 showing ivermectin decreases hospitalizations and deaths, Steffen says.

Lawmaker: 31 studies show ivermectin decreases hospitalizations

“Multivariate analysis of these studies shows the same,” he said. “Multivariate analysis is the highest level of scientific study done. There is irrefutable research that ivermectin has anti-viral and anti-inflammatory properties.”

And, Steffen says, Merck is on the verge of releasing a new drug for early treatment.

“Surprise! They were the original patent holders of ivermectin,” Steffen said. “It looks like this new drug will cost $700 per course. The deeper you look, the uglier this government-corporation propaganda gets.”

A course of ivermectin costs as little as $30.

Despite the favorable studies, high safety profile, and low cost, the FDA warns consumers in an internet posting they shouldn’t use ivermectin to treat or prevent COVID-19. However, the post also reports, “If your healthcare provider writes you an ivermectin prescription, fill it through a legitimate source such as a pharmacy, and take it exactly as prescribed.”

Docs prescribe, pharmacists dispense, according to state law

The FDA approves prescription drugs, but it can’t limit how doctors prescribe the drugs once approved. Off-label drug use is common. 

Researchers estimate that more than 20% of the medications prescribed in the United States are for off-label usage. Doctors provide a diagnosis and prescribe pharmaceuticals. The role of pharmacists is to administer, supply or dispense to licensed practitioners’ patients as “fit, proper, and necessary,” according to Kansas law.

Steffen says the pharmacists who refused to fill his ivermectin prescription practiced medicine without a license. 

“They are bowing to propaganda, and they are abandoning patients. They’re violating state law,” Steffen says.

Bill Walden, an Iola pharmacist who sits on the Kansas Board of Pharmacists, says pharmacists “absolutely have the authority” to reject a prescription. And he notes that state law also allows pharmacists to “exercise professional judgment regarding the accuracy, validity, and authenticity of any prescription.” 

Law allows pharmacists to exercise professional judgment

Doctors write medications and directions for usage on prescription forms, not diagnoses. It isn’t always obvious when a medication is prescribed for off-label usage. However, Walden says in the case of ivermectin, a pharmacist can tell by the directions. When used to treat COVID-19, the prescription typically directs the consumer to take several doses over a number of days. 

“If it’s used for scabies or something of that type, which is 99% of the time, it’s a one-time dose and no repeats,” Walden says. 

Steffen noted that many pharmacists regularly filled inappropriate narcotic prescriptions that led to a nationwide opioid crisis and the death of thousands. Steffen believes refusals to fill ivermectin prescriptions are politically motivated.

Early outpatient treatments ignored in government’s COVID response

In a poorly publicized U.S. Senate hearing last year, medical doctors told Senators that officials ignore potential early outpatient treatments that could prevent COVID deaths and alleviate hospital capacity issues.

“Our government research institutions have spent billions of dollars on expensive patent medications and vaccine development and almost nothing in outpatient treatments, the first line of defense,” Dr. Harvey Risch, a medical doctor, and professor of epidemiology at Yale University said during the hearing.

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