COLUMBIA, SC (WSPA) — A Senate Medical Affairs subcommittee listened to five hours of testimony from medical professionals discussing COVID-19 treatment options.
The subcommittee held a similar meeting last week. They heard from patients or family of patients concerned about doctors not prescribing or giving medications that aren’t FDA approved or authorized for use as a COVID-19 treatment.
Wednesday, lawmakers heard from pediatricians, DHEC, the South Carolina Hospital Association, doctors with independent practices and doctors from other parts of the country who have pushed for off-label use of drugs like hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin to treat COVID-19.
The FDA does not recommend hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin as treatments for COVID-19. One doctor from Wisconsin who spoke to state lawmakers Wednesday over the phone said there was ‘a lot of disinformation’ surrounding ivermectin.
Dr. Pierre Kory, the President of the Front-Line Covid-19 Critical Care Alliance, said he has prescribed the tablets to his patients and called it ‘one of the safest medicines in history.’
One family medicine doctor from Spartanburg said his employer has told him to stop prescribing the drug. Dr. Robert Jackson said, “What does the hospital care if I give my patient Ivermectin? What does the federal government care? It’s neither here nor there for them. Just because it is an off label use. They shouldn’t give two hoots and a holler if I give ivermectin to my patients.”
Dr. Jackson said the treatment has kept his patients from ending up seriously ill and in the hospital. He said he will continue to recommend the drug to patients testing positive for COVID-19.
The FDA has approved one drug, remdesivir, to treat COVID-19. The FDA has granted emergency use authorization for monoclonal antibodies. The National Institutes of Health has set up COVID-19 treatment guidelines for medical professionals.
DHEC testified during the Wednesday’s meeting. Director Dr. Edward Simmer said they provide guidance and information to medical professionals in South Carolina about treatment options. Dr Simmer said, “Our website says ivermectin is not an evidence based treatment. The evidence does not support it’s use. We don’t dissuade people from using it.”
DHEC’s website says, “Adequate clinical trials have not been done to prove ivermectin is effective to treat or prevent COVID-19. Small studies show it has no medical benefit, and there is not enough evidence to recommend ivermectin as a COVID-19 treatment.”
Other healthcare professionals said these treatments should not be seen as a substitute for the vaccine.