"Never have pharmacists been allowed to practice medicine and get between a doctor and his patient," stated Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry in an interview with TheBlaze. "Most certainly not in middle of a pandemic."
State attorney general might not be the elected position that comes to mind when assessing the pandemic response, but Landry believes that his counterparts in other states have a vital role to play in ensuring that pharmacies, medical boards, and licensing boards are following the laws.
Earlier this month, Landry became the first attorney general to publicly warn pharmacists against blocking COVID-related prescriptions, particularly for ivermectin. His letter was in response to an August memo from the Louisiana Board of Pharmacy titled, "Do not Use Ivermectin to Treat or Prevent COVID-19."
In the letter to the board, Landry notes that the FDA has given clear guidance that physicians can always prescribe off-label FDA-approved drugs "when they judge that it is medically appropriate for their patient." In fact, the FDA has made it clear that there is a particularly strong rationale for prescribing off label if there is no "approved drug to treat your disease or medical condition." In this case, we are in middle of the pandemic, and pharmacy and licensing boards are not offering patients any other options for treatment of inflammation and thrombosis, two of the main COVID ailments for which there are numerous therapeutics that have been proven effective.
Landry also cites the Louisiana Medical Practice Act, which clearly precludes pharmacists from actively diagnosing and practicing medicine, something many of them have done by asking doctors for a diagnosis before filling the prescription. "Upon reviewing this act, I find nothing that would allow the board to second guess the sound medical judgement of a physician when it comes to prescribing legal drugs to their patients, nor do I see anything that allows pharmacists generally to object to off-label use of FDA approved drugs," warned the conservative stalwart.
When I brought up with the attorney general the fact that some states have some form of a conscience exception for pharmacists to deny contraception when it violates their beliefs, he found it amusing that suddenly now pharmacists would discover a conscience — against a WHO essential drug in middle of a pandemic. "I don't know where their conscience was when they were giving out opioids like M&Ms," retorted the indignant Landry. "Ivermectin is not even a scheduled drug. All of a sudden they found a conscience."
Landry believes that fighting back against woke censorship of lifesaving prescriptions is important to preserving health and freedom. "What's always been great about American health care is that we allowed our doctors to practice their trade freely and do what's best for their patients. What's happening now is that big chain pharmacies are making the determination of whether to treat this virus. That was never, ever the job of the pharmacist. After verifying it's a legitimate prescription by a licensed doctor, they no longer have any license to do anything but fill the prescription."
Unfortunately, with the higher viral loads of the virus in recent months, patients have precious few days to obtain a prescription before potentially facing the dangerous cytokine storm that causes the pulmonary inflammation. Doctors in all 50 states have reported problems getting prescriptions filled for their patients.
"It's not just ivermectin," warned Dr. Mollie James, a Missouri ICU doctor, in an interview with TheBlaze. "I've had patients refused for any reason. Pharmacists have told them the scripts were 'flagged' as for COVID and 'kicked out' all of the scripts. I've had pharmacists refuse to fill an antibiotic for someone because they 'think we're using it to treat COVID.'"
James has volunteered to work in New York City ICUs since the beginning of the pandemic and understands more than almost anyone the importance of treating this virus from day one, which is why she is now helping treat people outpatient so they won't wind up in an ICU. "I regularly have patients infuriated and in tears because they are sick and scared to death they will end up in a hospital because they can't get their medications. There is a predictable timeline, and if people are having trouble breathing, I have about 24-48 hours to get them treated or they will end up in a hospital on oxygen. I can get anyone meds in 3-5 days, but sometimes that's not enough."
In Louisiana, the board has updated its guidance in response to Landry's inquiry and has stated that the board has no policy regarding ivermectin. "As a reminder, pharmacists have the right to exercise discretion when presented with any prescription, including ivermectin," wrote Malcolm Broussard, executive director of the Louisiana Board of Pharmacy, in a follow-up memo.
However, that sounds like they are still winking and nodding at policies percolating throughout the big pharmacy chains to obstruct as many prescriptions as possible, as I'm hearing from desperate patients throughout the country. Also, with the war on supply making the product more scarce, the price is rising well beyond what a generic, off-patent drug should cost. With insurance companies balking at ivermectin prescriptions, many people cannot afford the cost if they are forced to go to a smaller pharmacy that will gouge them.
For his part, Landry is monitoring the war on treatment for legal violations across the spectrum of health care in his state, which includes medical boards that are threatening doctors who are treating COVID. "We absolutely are monitoring both the medical board and licensing board for malicious prosecution beyond their purview because I believe that government actors who engage in that behavior are engaging malfeasance," he said.
Ultimately, he believes more people need to join the fight to ensure that insurance companies, pharmacies, and medical boards don't collude to shut out lifesaving treatment. "State legislators are going to have to step up, along with private litigation," he advised. "AGs should also be on the lookout to make sure doctors are free to practice medicine with undue interference."
What is so tragic is that while pharmacists block one of the safest drugs of all time, they are applying "an honor system" to those getting a booster shot that has spawned hundreds of thousands of adverse reactions. The CDC has announced that it will trust that people coming for the third shot are among the designated at-risk groups. I already know people who have gone to my local Walgreens to get a third shot weeks before it was even approved for those over age 65. They give them out like candy, yet a Nobel prize-winning drug is assailed like it's hemlock.The million-dollar question is – why? "Why would the government want to discourage doctors working with their patients to try to find drugs that have the ability to therapeutically heal American citizens, especially when they are more effective and cost-effective?" wondered Landry.