The Bulletin Board

Senate committee suggests compromise on ivermectin legislation

By: - April 13, 2022 3:25 pm

The Food and Drug Administration has not approved ivermectin as a COVID-19 treatment. (Getty Images)

The House has passed two bills this session that would make ivermectin, which is not approved for treating COVID-19, more easily available for people who place such faith in it they are ordering it from other countries.

The chairman of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee appears to be looking for a compromise that would allow one but not the other to become law.

House Bill 1022, which passed the House, 183-159, would allow pharmacists to dispense ivermectin without a prescription from a physician. House Bill 1466, passed in a voice vote, would keep prescribing decisions with physicians but give them broader authority to use drugs “off label,” meaning diseases the drugs have been approved to treat. 

During a hearing on HB 1022 Wednesday, committee Chairman Jeb Bradley, a Wolfeboro Republican, asked one of its sponsors and others, including an opponent, whether HB 1466 would meet both their goals: make ivermectin easier to get while retaining physician oversight. Each said it would.

The law already allowed physicians to prescribe medications for off-label use where there is sound medical evidence supporting the decision. HB 1466 would also allow off-label prescribing  when a physician documents that a patient has given informed consent to use a drug for off-label use. That would include ivermectin.

The Senate has not yet voted on HB 1466 but no one testified against it at a hearing earlier this month.

Ivermectin has long been used to treat infections caused by parasitic worms and head lice, and skin conditions like rosacea. The federal Food and Drug Administration has not approved it as a COVID-19 treatment, and the medical community has pointed to studies showing it does not reduce the risk of hospitalization. 

Those testifying for HB 1022 Wednesday included two House lawmakers who said they treated their own COVID-19 symptoms successfully with ivermectin. 

Rep. Peter Torosian, an Atkinson Republican who said he is not vaccinated, said his symptoms improved within two days of taking ivermectin. He said his son and daughter-in-law are vaccinated but did not use ivermectin when they tested positive. Their symptoms lasted much longer, he said. 

“I can’t sit here and say conclusively that’s the reason, but I believe it certainly helped me,” he said. 

Rep. Jerry Knirk, a doctor and Freedom Democrat, said anecdotes and references to flawed studies are not medical evidence of ivermectin’s efficacy. And passing legislation elevating its use, he said, is harmful in that it misleads people who use it and delays proven treatment for their symptoms. 

“Hundreds of poorly designed studies are not hundreds of quality designed studies,” he said. “They do not prove anything and anecdotes do not prove anything. There is no rationale for accepting crummy studies when we have good studies.” 

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Annmarie Timmins
Annmarie Timmins

Senior reporter Annmarie Timmins is a New Hampshire native who covered state government, courts, and social justice issues for the Concord Monitor for 25 years. During her time with the Monitor, she won a Nieman Fellowship to study journalism and mental health courts at Harvard for a year. She has taught journalism at the University of New Hampshire and writing at the Nackey S. Loeb School of Communications. Email: [email protected]