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Ohio Republicans’ Bill Forces Doctors to Offer Disproven Drugs to Treat COVID

Doctors and health boards could be punished financially if they don’t promote the disproven drugs.

A pharmacy tech counts out pills of Hydroxychloroquine at Rock Canyon Pharmacy in Provo, Utah, on May 20, 2020.

Republican lawmakers in Ohio want to force doctors in the state to offer disproven drug “treatments” for COVID-19 to their patients, and to punish them financially if they refuse to do so.

House Bill 631, the COVID-19 Health Care Professional-Patient Relationship Protection Act, is sponsored by state Rep. Kris Jordan (R) and co-sponsored by state Rep. Ron Ferguson (R). The bill would require local boards of health to “promote and increase distribution” of four drugs to treat coronavirus — including hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin, two drugs that it has been definitively proven do not work against the virus.

“This is securing that right for an individual to make, with consultation with their health care provider, the best decision for their health care plan,” Ferguson said of the bill. “More options, better health care. That’s what people are always looking for in the healthcare space.”

The bill comes after a Cincinnati hospital refused to treat a patient with ivermectin when he and his family requested it. When his wife sued following his death, the judge sided with the hospital, finding that the drug would have provided no value in helping save the man’s life.

According to the language of the bill, Ohio doctors would be required to promote the drugs as being “effective or deemed beneficial” for patients to use in the treatment of coronavirus. Doctors would also be forbidden from suppressing the promotion of the drugs, or limiting their patients’ access to them, and could be punished through lawsuits for doing so.

Numerous studies have debunked claims that either hydroxychloroquine, an antimalarial drug, or ivermectin, a deworming medication typically used on farm animals, have any benefit in treating COVID-19.

A National Institutes of Health (NIH) clinical trial in 2020 found “no clinical benefit” to using hydroxychloroquine to treat the virus, for example. And a study examining the use of ivermectin that was published late last month demonstrated that the drug also had no effect in treating COVID-19.

In spite of these drugs having no positive effect in the treatment against or prevention of coronavirus, they have remained popular among far right groups who still refuse to get vaccinated, thanks in large part to disinformation from former President Donald Trump.

Trump pushed for the use of hydroxychloroquine as a method of treatment early in the pandemic. When studies began pointing out that use of the drug was ineffective for COVID treatment, Trump dismissed their findings by calling them “Trump enemy” statements.

Trump took hydroxychloroquine, reportedly as a preventative against coronavirus, up to at least May of 2020. When he contracted coronavirus in the fall of that year, his treatment regimen did not include the use of the drug, nor of any other disproven method.

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