An Iowa doctor is seeking a court order requiring pharmacies to fill the prescription drugs hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin to treat COVID-19.
The order is being sought as part of a civil lawsuit brought by Dr. David Hartsuch, an emergency physician from Bettendorf, against the Iowa Board of Medicine and the Iowa Board of Pharmacy in Scott County District Court.
Hartsuch, a former Republican state senator, accused two licensing boards of trying to prevent patients from receiving certain legal prescription drugs that his lawsuit refers to — ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine — to treat. COVID-19.
Two weeks ago, the Journal of the American Medical Association published a study showing that about 1 in 20 adults in the United States reported using ivermectin or hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID-19, even though both This medication is not approved by the FDA for that use.
Ivermectin is used in humans to treat infections caused by parasitic worms. In 2020, hydroxychloroquine was briefly authorized by the FDA to treat COVID-19, but the agency reversed itself when clinical studies showed the drug was unlikely to be effective and may have an effect. serious side effects.
Hartsuch’s dispute with two state licensing boards began on March 26, 2020, when the two boards sent all state-licensed physicians and pharmacists an email with a discouraging statement. Use hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin to treat COVID-19. Hartsuch announced that he had successfully petitioned the Medical Council to reconsider the matter, and on September 11, 2020, the two councils issued an amended statement saying doctors could prescribe medication without facing disciplinary action.
In October 2021, one of Hartsuch’s patients filed a complaint with the Board of Pharmacy alleging Hartsuch prescribed him ivermectin, but an eastern Iowa pharmacy later refused to fill the prescription . The complainant said he asked the pharmacist to sign a form verifying the refusal. After the pharmacist refused, the complainant contacted Hartsuch, who called the pharmacy and asked about the problem.
No public action was taken as a result of the complaint, but several months later, in January 2022, the Iowa Board of Medicine initiated an investigation into Hartsuch.
Cedar Rapids man was denied ivermectin by pharmacy
Court records show the investigation into Hartsuch focused on three allegations: that he acted unprofessionally in his dealings with a Walgreens pharmacist; that he spread misinformation about COVID-19 and its treatment; and that he was prescribing off-label drugs that had not been approved by the FDA to treat COVID-19.
In October 2022, the Medical Board concluded its investigation and sent a confidential warning letter to Hartsuch reprimanding him for raising his voice at a pharmacist. Two months later, Hartsuch sued the board, asking the judge to order the board to remove the warning letter.
In his lawsuit, Hartsuch claimed that the warning letter violated his free speech rights and made him fearful of interacting with any pharmacist. He also alleges that he has not worked in the emergency medical field since July 2022 and that the letter prevented him from securing malpractice insurance and returning to work.
The lawsuit claims that only with the court’s intervention could Hartsuch explain to potential employers that the gap in his work history was due entirely to fraudulent practices by the Medical Board. act outside their jurisdiction.
The order will force pharmacies to fill prescriptions
As part of the lawsuit, Hartsuch asked the court to remove the warning from his otherwise spotless record and for the board to permanently close the case so he could continue to practice medicine without there is a cloud of wrongdoing.
The lawsuit also seeks an injunction requiring Iowa pharmacies to prescribe hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin like all other prescription drugs.
Hartsuch told the Iowa Capital Dispatch on Monday that his lawsuit is intended to force the board to stop intimidating doctors and allowing doctors to prescribe drugs off-label, and that’s all I’m asking for. .
As part of the litigation, the Medical Board denied Hartsuch’s request for access to investigative records about him, arguing that a confidential warning letter is not a disciplinary measure. may cause the records to be disclosed. The court recently rejected that argument, stating that the board cannot avoid judicial review by issuing disciplinary action in a secret warning letter intended to end the investigation. investigation without initiating disciplinary proceedings.
While the Medical Council sought to resolve some aspects of the dispute on July 18, 2023, by removing the phrase Warning Letter from its October 2022 letter to him, there is a possibility of removing the its disciplinary nature, Hartsuch told the court that the board’s initial action was effective. left him with a gap in his work history that severely damaged his professional reputation. He claimed the warning letter was the professional equivalent of a scarlet letter to publicly shame him.
Speaking with Capital Dispatch, Hartsuch noted that the Iowa Medical Board has publicly acknowledged investigating at least 17 Iowa physicians over allegations of COVID-related misinformation. He contrasted Iowa’s position on such issues with that of the licensing board in neighboring Nebraska.
Hartsuch said the attorney general in Nebraska actually issued a statement saying doctors have the right to treat and prescribe drugs off-label and the medical board cannot interfere. In that state, doctors treated Covid. And as a result, in Iowa, our case fatality rate is 37% higher than in Nebraska. The states are very similar, the populations are similar, and in our state, if you get COVID, you’re 37% more likely to die as a result. And that’s because the board here engaged in something illegal, unconstitutional and unlawful.
In October 2021, Nebraska Attorney General Douglas Peterson issued an opinion stating that prescribing ivermectin or hydroxychloroquine to patients with COVID-19 would not result in our office taking measures discipline.
According to federal data collected by the Centers for Disease Control and compiled by Worldometer, Iowa has had 1,058,274 COVID-19 cases and 10,797 deaths. Nebraska has had 574,399 COVID-19 cases and 5,063 deaths.
Those numbers show that of the Nebraskans infected to date, just under 1% have died. Of Iowans infected, more than 1% have died.
Hartsuch served as a state senator from Bettendorf from 2007-2010 and ran unsuccessfully for the United States House of Representatives in 2008.
Dr Chariton reports ‘sham’ investigation
In July, another Iowa physician who has advocated the use of ivermectin, Dr. Mollie James of Chariton, stated in a post to X, Twitter’s successor: 18 months of fake panel investigation before I was relieved. There were no accusations of wrongdoing, just threats over the top to keep me quiet. To help patients who are seriously ill and hospitalized because of Covid.
She also posted, After 18 long months marked as safe by medical board investigation today.
Since the outbreak of COVID-19, James has attracted national attention in some conservative circles for her promotion of ivermectin and hydroxychloroquinein to treat the virus as well as her public condemnations that for Dr. Anthony Fauci, the Biden administration, and much of the medical establishment in general.
Earlier this year, Lancet published what it said was the most comprehensive state-by-state analysis of the impact of COVID-19 in various states. Research has found a disproportionate number of COVID-19 cases in states that voted heavily Republican in the 2020 presidential election, and found that states imposed more vaccine regulations and wearing masks has lower infection rates.
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