Lawmakers in New Hampshire are moving forward with making a drug that is unapproved to treat COVID-19 available over the counter.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has not approved the use of ivermectin, an anti-parasitic drug, for coronavirus, and there aren't any reputable studies that prove its efficacy.
Still, the bill got the go-ahead along party lines from the Senate Health and Human Services Committee and will go before the full Senate for a vote next week.
"I think ivermectin is something that will prove to be something that can work for a lot of people," said Republican Majority Leader Senator Jeb Bradley.
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While he admits there is a lack of clinical evidence, Bradley argues that there is plenty of anecdotal evidence.
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"We've had tremendous amount of testimony, people who have used ivermectin and absolutely swear by it," he said.
The most recent study by the New England Journal of Medicine shows ivermectin is not effective in battling COVID-19 and did not reduce hospitalizations.
"That's being dismissed here by a legislative body, and that's what's so painful," said Sen. Tom Sherman, a Democrat.
Sherman, a licensed gastroenterologist, is the only medical doctor in the State Senate. He is speaking out against the bill that would make the anti-parasitic drug available to anyone over the age of 18.
"It's just dangerous," he said. "It is breathtaking how irresponsible it would be to do that."
Republican Rep. Jim Kofalt cosponsored the bill, in part because he thinks it makes the use of ivermectin safer, since people would have to consult with a pharmacist first.
"We actually see this as a way to improve overall health for New Hampshire residents," Kofalt said. "The problem we see right now is that people are ordering from overseas and they're getting it from sources that they don't know very well."
Dr. Sherman is worried that if lawmakers approve the use of an unproven drug, Granite Staters will turn to that instead of the proven treatments against COVID-19.
"What is frustrating is that politics have now taken over for science," he said.
Gov. Chris Sununu's Office said in a statement, "If the bill reaches the Governor's desk, he will carefully consider and review the final language of the legislation."