MONROE, La. (KNOE) – Rep. Michael Echols has pre-filed a bill ahead of the 2022 regular legislative session requiring pharmacists to fill off-label prescriptions.
An off-label drug is a drug that is prescribed to a patient and has not been approved to treat that specific disease.
“This is just an effort to maintain the doctor-patient relationship,” said Echols, who represents District 14 in the Louisiana House of Representatives.
Echols says he drafted the bill after consulting with medical professionals.
“The prescriptions they were writing weren’t being filled,” Echols said. “There was even pressure from licensing boards.”
Currently, it is legal for doctors to order FDA-approved drugs for unapproved uses. However, there is no law preventing pharmacists from refusing to fill these prescriptions. Echols wants to change that.
“Where you see this challenge happening is the big chains that have a national narrative,” Echols told KNOE. “Some national guidelines prevent these prescribers from dispensing these drugs.”
Ivermectin, an antiparasitic drug, has been prescribed by some doctors to treat COVID-19. In 2021, the American Pharmacists Association called on pharmacists to stop dispensing the drug, calling it harmful. Echols thinks that decision should be left to the person’s doctor.
“Some of the media chaos that ensued has been around that, but there are many other drugs that have been prescribed that could benefit a patient,” Echols said.
The bill also prevents medical boards from sanctioning any healthcare professional who orders an off-label drug if they believe it is in the best interest of the patient.
Senator Stewart Cathey drafted a similar law allowing doctors to prescribe any drug with the patient’s consent. Echols says the two bills could be merged once the session opens on March 14.
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