PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) – A controversial bill to allow any medical professionals to give off-label use of ivermectin to treat COVID-19 was unanimously killed in a Senate committee. 

The Senate Health and Human Services voted 7-0 to send House Bill 1267 to the 41st day. 

Sen. Arthur Rusch (R-Vermillion) brought the motion to kill the bill and pointed out he’s not a medical expert. His opposition to the bill came from his belief in less government involvement and added he doesn’t want to see the legislature dictate medicine. 

Sen. Blake Curd (R-Sioux Falls) agreed with Rusch’s motion and said the bill may restrict physicians’ use and added the state is already too involved in health care. 

Sen. Red Dawn Foster (D-Pine Ridge) said she was concerned with the words regarding “dispensing vs. prescribing.”  

The state House of Representatives voted in favor of the bill 40-28 for an amended version of legislation last week that lets medical practitioners prescribe ivermectin for purposes that don’t have federal approval. It passed the House Health and Human Services Committee narrowly by a 7-6 vote. 

Ivermectin, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is a U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved prescription medication used to treat certain infections caused by internal and external parasites. There’s also veterinary formulations of ivermectin, sometimes available over the counter, to be used as a de-wormer for dogs, cats, horses, cows and pigs.

Rep. Phil Jensen (R-Rapid City) was the bill’s prime sponsor. He said the bill was not a mandate and turned testimony over to a number of doctors testifying remotely as well as a few South Dakotans touting the use of ivermectin to combat COVID-19.  

Dr. Paul Marik, a longtime doctor from Virginia, was the first to support the bill. Marik said he’s worked in health care for 35 years and added he has looked after COVID-19 patients since March 2020. Earlier this year, Marik resigned from his position at Eastern Virginia Medical School over a dispute involving ivermectin. 

Marik said the drug-maker or ivermectin, Merck, has a conflict of interest because of its competitive COVID-19 drug. He said opponents were not speaking the truth about ivermectin and said medical journals were being pressured by big pharmacy companies. 

He said the bill was an issue of “allowing doctors to be doctors.”

 Rep. Tony Randolph (R-Rapid City) told the committee COVID-19 hit him pretty hard and he was out for two weeks. He said ivermectin helped him recover.

The South Dakota State Medical Association spoke against it and lobbyist Justin Bell said people with authority to prescribe drugs can already prescribe ivermectin. He said under the bill, a veterinarian could give a prescription to humans.

Avera Health and Sanford Health each opposed the bill as well along with the South Dakota Association of Healthcare Organizations, the South Dakota Academy of Family Physicians and the South Dakota Pharmacists Association.

Deb Fischer-Clemens, a lobbyist with Avera, said ivermectin is a drug doctors currently use. She said there have been several uses of ivermectin in the Avera system for appropriate use.