Man charged in drug overdose death

Mastriano introduces bill to allow for ivermectin to treat COVID

Matt Enright
York Dispatch

Earlier this year, Republican state Rep. Dawn Keefer introduced a bill that would allow for the use of drugs like ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID-19.

That is despite the fact that neither of those drugs have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for that purpose outside of clinical trials.

Now, Republican state Sen. Doug Mastriano has introduced a counterpart bill.

Mastriano, R-Franklin, introduced Senate Bill 1091, which is intended to allow physicians and pharmacists to prescribe and dispense drugs already approved by the FDA for off-label use in the treatment or prevention of COVID-19.

It also would prevent pharmacies from declining to fill a prescription of a COVID-19 early treatment drug based on their opinion of the drug.

"Sadly, politics, bureaucracy, and profit margin motivations are pressuring doctors and pharmacists to reject the use of proven off-label drugs," Mastriano said in a statement. "It’s time for the legislature to step in and ensure that all COVID early treatment options are on the table.”

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Also signing onto the bill are Sen. Kristin Phillips-Hill, R-York Township, Sen. Judy Ward, R-Blair, and Sen. Patrick Stefano, R-Fayette.

In addition to introducing the bill, Mastriano and others are set to speak on a panel promoting COVID-19 misinformation later this week.

They will appear with Dr. Peter McCullough, Thomas Renz, Dr. Bryan Ardis and Steve Kirsch — all of whom have promoted COVID-19 misinformation in the past.

Sen. Doug Mastriano, R-Franklin, arrives for Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf's budget address for the 2022-23 fiscal year to a joint session of the Pennsylvania House and Senate in Harrisburg, Pa., Tuesday, Feb. 8, 2022. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

Ivermectin in quantities that are intended for livestock has become a popular drug among some who believe — without any evidence — that it is effective to treat or prevent COVID-19. In York County, a court ruled that one patient, who later died of COVID, could have access to ivermectin. 

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"The FDA has not authorized or approved ivermectin for the treatment or prevention of COVID-19 in people or animals. Ivermectin has not been shown to be safe or effective for these indications," the FDA advised.

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While the FDA had tested hydroxychloroquine's use against COVID-19, an emergency use authorization was revoked after clinical trials showed reports of serious heart rhythm problems and other safety issues, including blood and lymph system disorders, kidney injuries and liver problems and failure.

— Reach Matt Enright via email at menright@yorkdispatch.com or via Twitter at @Matthew_Enright.