Capital Clicks

House budget proposal includes ivermectin ‘right to try’ bill

By: - March 28, 2022 5:50 pm
Patient receives respiratory treatment in a hospital

A budget bill advanced Monday by an Iowa House committee would give terminally ill patients or patients on ventilators the option to use drugs for an off-label use. (Photo via Getty Images)

The House Health and Human Services budget proposal will incorporate several pieces of policy, including legislation to allow the use of ivermectin for terminally ill COVID-19 patients.

The budget allocates $2.1 billion across the Department of Public Health, Department of Human Services, Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department on Aging – a $53.5 million increase over the current fiscal year.

But the proposed budget also houses several policy bills, including:

  • Giving terminally ill patients or patients on ventilators the option to use drugs for an off-label use. This would permit very ill COVID-19 patients to use ivermectin, a drug that has not been approved for the treatment of the coronavirus. The original bill, House File 2203, passed the House but was not taken up for floor debate in the Senate.
  • Introducing additional privacy restrictions for the collection and reporting of health data. The House passed the original bill, House File 488, in 2021, but the Senate did not.
  • Creating a new psychiatry residency program through the University of Iowa hospital system. The House passed the original bill, House File 2529, unanimously earlier this month, but it has yet to move in the Senate. 

“I look forward to this bill moving on the House floor,” Rep. Joel Fry, R-Osceola, said. “Certainly there’s work to be done in the Senate on this bill yet, so as these conversations continue, we’ll see where the bill goes.”

Rep. John Forbes, a Democrat and a pharmacist, objected to the inclusion of the “right to try” legislation on ivermectin. Forbes was a vocal critic of the proposal when it passed the House in early March, arguing the bill could make it difficult for medical professionals to verify the authenticity of patient-provided drugs.

“As a pharmacist, one of the questions I have when I dispense medication is I want to make sure that the medication I’m giving to my patients have gone through the proper channels … If a family member could bring a medication into a hospital setting, is that drug really what it’s supposed to be?” Forbes, D-Urbandale, said during floor debate.

In Monday’s meeting, Forbes again objected to the proposal, though he said the funding portion of the bill was “very positive.”

The House Appropriations Committee voted 15-10 to advance the bill, marking it eligible for floor debate.

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Katie Akin
Katie Akin

Katie Akin is a former Iowa Capital Dispatch reporter. Katie began her career as an intern at PolitiFact, debunking viral fake news and fact-checking state and national politicians. She moved to Iowa in 2019 for a politics internship at the Des Moines Register, where she assisted with Iowa Caucus coverage, multimedia projects and the Register’s Iowa Poll. She became the Register’s retail reporter in early 2020, chronicling the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Central Iowa’s restaurants and retailers.