From KMS Executive Director Rachelle Colombo:
As you may have read in the media, a state legislator who is also a physician sent a letter to other health care providers regarding COVID-19 treatment. Local media reports this week indicate Senator Mark Steffen, MD — a Hutchinson anesthesiologist — sent a letter on official Senate stationery to numerous Kansas health care providers telling them that the standard of care for treatment of COVID-19 patients had changed and that they will be shielded from “interference” by the Kansas State Board of Healing Arts (KSBOHA). He also suggests that a physician’s “failure to treat” according to the new standard will be considered “wanton disregard.”
Steffen cited passage this session by the Senate of a bill (HB 2280) that would explicitly authorize physicians to prescribe ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID-19, and which would also prevent the KSBOHA from disciplining physicians for any care related to COVID-19. However, the bill has not yet been approved by the full Legislature. Steffen’s letter seemed to suggest otherwise. Steffen has also previously claimed to be under investigation by the KSBOHA regarding ivermectin prescribing.
The KSBOHA responded Friday to Steffen’s letter. The board’s President Thomas Estep, MD, and Acting Executive Director Susan Gile said the senator’s letter “has caused some confusion and concern amongst those in the Kansas medical professional community regarding prescribing FDA approved drugs off label.” The KSBOHA response goes on to state that off-label prescribing is not prohibited by state or federal law, and that as with any prescription, providers should comply with standards of care and professional conduct. The KSBOHA also takes issue with Steffen’s conclusions regarding standard of care for COVID-19, stating “this is simply his opinion; and his opinion has not altered the legal standard.”
Also of note, Attorney General Derek Schmidt recently issued a legal opinion on the question of off-label prescribing, including for COVID-19-related treatment. He affirmed that nothing in Kansas or federal law prohibits the off-label prescribing of FDA-approved drugs such as ivermectin or hydroxychloroquine for the prevention or treatment of COVID-19 so long as the standard of care and conduct obligations to the patient are met.
KMS is opposed to HB 2280 as it is currently written because it undermines the ability of the KSBOHA to enforce standard of care safeguards for protecting patients and prohibits pharmacists from exercising their professional judgment in dispensing decisions.
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