A new bill would, if enacted into law, prohibit a Tennessee licensing board or disciplinary subcommittee from acting against a physician’s license based solely on the physician’s recommendations to a patient regarding treatment for COVID-19.
The bill would also prohibit a pharmacy from blocking or attempting to block a patient’s access to COVID-19 treatments in certain circumstances.
“This bill prohibits a licensing board or disciplinary subcommittee from acting against a physician’s license based solely on the physician’s recommendations to a patient regarding treatment for COVID-19, so long as the physician exercised independent medical judgment and believes that the medical treatment is in the best interest of the patient,” according to the language of the bill.
“This bill also prohibits pharmacies from blocking or attempting to block a patient’s access to a drug, biological product, or device solely prescribed as a treatment for COVID-19 on the basis that the United States FDA has not approved the drug, biological product, or device to treat COVID-19.”
Hulsey and Bowling filed their respective bills last month, according to the Georgia General Assembly’s website.
Two oral antiviral therapeutics developed by pharmaceutical companies Merck and Pfizer to treat mild to moderate cases of COVID-19 are readily available to patients in Tennessee as a part of an increased bi-weekly allocation program.
“This increase in allocations is something we have been anticipating for weeks,” Tennessee Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Lisa Piercey, MD, MBA, FAAP said in a statement.
“Our goal has always been to increase access to these treatments by onboarding more pharmacies to maximize access to patients. We have seen a steady increase in allocations to the state and know many pharmacies and providers are eager to offer this treatment to help mitigate COVID-19 disease progression for those at risk of a severe outcome.”
The pills – called Paxlovid® by Pfizer and molnupiravir by Merck – are for individuals at high risk of progression to severe illness, including hospitalization and death. Department of Health officials note that the therapies require a prescription by a licensed provider. Individuals seeking this treatment option, the agency said, should coordinate with their healthcare provider before contacting a location to receive the therapies.
When the two treatments were first authorized under an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), allocations to states were limited, however, in recent weeks, allocations have increased, allowing additional pharmacies and other dispensers to submit requests for these oral antiviral treatments.
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