Receiving its first hearing Tuesday was House Bill 631, or the COVID-19 Health Care Professional-Patient Relationship Protection Act, which would protect the use of drugs not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat COVID-19 patients.
As long a patient or its representative consents to the treatment – and a health care provider deems its use appropriate – Ohioans diagnosed with COVID-19 are eligible to receive drugs like ivermectin and other “alternative treatments,” according to bill sponsor Rep. Kris Jordan (R-Ostrander).
“Respecting the authority and judgment of Ohio’s medical community is paramount,” Jordan, who could not attend Tuesday’s committee meeting, said in a statement. “This bill achieves this by limiting unnecessary state interference in the doctor-patient relationship.”
Dr. Iahn Gonsenhauser, the chief quality and patient safety officer at Ohio State’s Wexner Medical Center, said when the bill was introduced that its promotion of unauthorized drugs “absolutely” poses a threat to the health of Ohioans.
As some state lawmakers resisted the deployment of the COVID-19 vaccine citing unclear effects – despite widespread authorization from health agencies – Gonsenhauser said the supporters of HB 631 are hypocritical for backing a bill steeped in fruitless claims.
“Those same individuals are now introducing a bill that supports the use of therapies that are not intended to treat COVID, have been proven – really beyond a shadow of a doubt – to be unsuccessful in the treatment of COVID, and have actually been shown to have significant safety consequences,” Gonsenhauser said.
In August, the CDC reported a “rapid increase” in severe illness caused by the ingestion of ivermectin as a COVID-19 treatment and cautioned against the use of hydroxychloroquine outside of hospital settings due to the risk of cardiovascular problems.
Jordan, however, contended that the therapies outlined in his bill have been shown to be clinically effective yet remain “unavailable to patients who may benefit from them because of unnecessary government intervention and red tape,” he said.
Under Jordan’s bill, Ohio’s boards and departments of health would be required to increase the distribution of the drugs to pharmacies and healthcare professionals and are outlawed from suppressing or reprimanding the use of them as COVID-19 treatments.
The bill lists four types of drugs: ivermectin, an antiparasitic drug often used as a deworming agent for pets; hydroxychloroquine, an antimalarial treatment; budesonide, an obscure steroid; and azithromycin, an antibacterial drug, according to Gonsenhauser.
He said it’s worth noting that none of the four drugs listed as “alternative” treatment options are anti-viral nor have been shown to help patients diagnosed with COVID-19.
“COVID is a virus – not a bacteria – and that’s an important, very significant distinction,” Gonsenhauser said.
Poison control centers have increasingly responded to reports of toxicity resulting from the use of ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine by COVID-19 patients, Gonsenhauser said, and the combination of the two drugs increases the likelihood of cardiac arrest.
Jordan, whose bill is co-sponsored by seven Republican lawmakers, has also introduced legislation taking aim at mandatory vaccinations and other COVID-19-related orders.
The first hearing on Jordan’s bill came two months after a Cleveland doctor was placed under investigation by the state medical board for falsely claiming, before a panel of state lawmakers, that coronavirus vaccines cause magnetism.