Court Sides With Pharmacies Over Ivermectin Prescription Refusal

Amid the whirlwind of opinions and facts surrounding the global COVID-19 pandemic, a distinct piece of news has emerged from the legal world. A federal court in Missouri has tossed out a lawsuit against pharmacies, specifically Walmart and Hy-Vee in Albert Lea, which had refused to fill ivermectin prescriptions for COVID-19 patients. This issue paints a vivid picture of the intricacies and tug-of-war between patient rights, the role of pharmacies and evolving medical standards.

In 2021, William and Karla Salier sought treatment for COVID-19 by obtaining prescriptions for ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine from a Missouri doctor. Their quest for health became a tumultuous journey when pharmacists at Walmart and Hy-Vee declined to fulfill these prescriptions. Reportedly, the Saliers were admonished regarding the perils of using ivermectin as a COVID-19 treatment. Karla Salier stated that she faced a brusque lecture at Walmart. Hy-Vee mentioned a corporate policy against prescribing the drug for the virus.

As a result of this refusal, the Saliers resorted to using a veterinary version of ivermectin, generally reserved for large animals. Their rapid recovery post-treatment spurred them to take legal action against the pharmacies, citing a violation of their “common-law right to self-determination.”

Yet, the courts did not favor the Saliers. Both a district court and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eight Circuit upheld the pharmacies’ decisions. They argue that Missouri law permits pharmacists to use independent judgment when filling prescriptions. It’s noteworthy to mention that, at the time, “the FDA and every government agency and major medical authority addressing the issue had denounced and recommended against using ivermectin to treat COVID-19.”

But the legalities and refusals gain further complexity when considering a recent development. PJ Media reported that the FDA, in a significant shift, has now allowed the prescription of ivermectin for COVID-19 treatment. Such modifications might leave many wondering about the rapid changes and information flow during this pandemic. The initial labeling of ivermectin as merely a “horse medicine” and the subsequent quiet nod for COVID-19 treatment raises eyebrows, especially in the backdrop of the emergency use authorization that mandates no other effective treatments available.

However, the court’s decision does emphasize the importance of professional autonomy, especially in the medical realm. Pharmacists’ ability to exercise discretion, to “police” as Diane Marks puts it, has been upheld, despite her valid concerns about patient-doctor privilege. “When it comes to medication, a pharmacist is not a doctor,” she argued, echoing sentiments shared by many who believe that a prescribed medication should be available.

Yet, the poignant questions remain. How many, like the Saliers, were turned away? How many, lost in the confusion of advisories and opposing standpoints, suffered silently? Such instances underscore the importance of clear, consistent, and transparent communication, especially during public health crises.