While Alaska leads the country in COVID-19 cases, the state’s Republican lawmakers continue to talk out of both sides of their mouths. On the one hand, they remain steadfast in their calls to forgo mask and vaccine mandates. On the other, they’re demanding easier access to unproven and unauthorized medicines such as ivermectin to treat the virus they’re downplaying.
Once again, for those in the back of the theater, ivermectin is approved by the FDA only to treat conditions caused by parasitic worms, head lice, and skin conditions such as rosacea. And by the way, the Earth is round.
That said, Senate Majority Leader Shelly Hughes of Palmer, Alaska, is urging Gov. Mike Dunleavy to hand out ivermectin and vitamins to Alaska residents “that some Alaskan physicians are prescribing, but pharmacies aren’t filling,” according to the Anchorage Daily News.
Additionally, three GOP House members testified at a pharmacy board meeting in Alaska, seemingly pressuring or demanding that pharmacists fill prescriptions by these doctors who insist on prescribing a medication the FDA has approved only to treat parasitic worms. The last time we checked, COVID-19 is not that.
“Maybe the pharmacists could be directed—or directed’s the wrong word—suggested that they allow the doctors to actually be doctors and do their jobs,” Rep. Kevin McCabe of Big Lake said, according to reporting by Alaska Public Media. “The patient and the doctor should be the ones to decide.”
If you’re wondering where the idea of using ivermectin came from, it started in Australia in the spring of 2020. Researchers found that the medicine killed the virus in a laboratory setting. The problem was that the amount you’d need would also likely kill a person.
“You could take many drugs and push them to a high enough concentration that you would see some effect in a laboratory setting against pathogens,” Sunil Parikh, an associate professor of epidemiology and infectious diseases at the Yale School of Public Health, told the Seattle Times. “When we use them in humans, we have to find the sweet spot where the drug has its positive effect, but the risk of any of those side effects is extremely low.” Ivermectin has not reached this “sweet spot” between effectiveness and low risk to treat COVID-19.
Still, all of the actual science hasn’t stopped those who’ll refute the actual things that work against the virus, such as getting the COVID-19 vaccine, wearing a mask, or keeping distant in large crowds.
People such as Kenai Peninsula Borough Mayor Charlie Pierce, who wants Alaska to become a testing ground for ivermectin’s use in fighting COVID-19. Or Mike Coons, one of two Dunleavy appointees to the Alaska Commission on Aging, who also testified at the pharmacy board meeting.
Coons told Alaska Public Media he’s excited by the findings of hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin. And when he was exposed to a neighbor who had the coronavirus, he says his doctor was willing to prescribe both drugs if Coons needed them.
Coons learned that filling a prescription for ivermectin to treat COVID-19 could result in a doctor and a pharmacist losing their licenses.
“What we need this board to do is to tell Kroger and Fred Meyer’s and Safeway and Carr’s and Walgreens that, if you’re going to operate in the state of Alaska, under state of Alaska licensure, when a doctor gives a prescription, they get that prescription out to that patient—no questions asked, other than what they’re normally supposed to be asking,” Coons testified. Coons did not mention if this policy should extend to Plan B, the so-called morning-after pill many conservative lawmakers believe pharmacists should be allowed to deny to patients.
The whole ivermectin craze for those who practice and believe in actual science leaves them feeling terrified and frustrated.
“We’ve already had the sad example of hydroxychloroquine, which is used for malaria, which clearly did not show any positive effects,” Parikh says. He adds, “I’m afraid at the moment we’re heading down that way with ivermectin.”
The hypocrisy is blatant in the U.S. While GOP lawmakers continue to argue for the use of unproven treatments, women are forced to fight laws banning proven medical procedures such as abortions, face limited access to multiple forms of FDA-approved birth control, and physician-assisted suicide is outlawed.