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Measure allowing medically questionable COVID-19 treatments fails in a Senate committee

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A crowd of supporters of medically questionable COVID-19 treatments, like ivermectin, flocked to a Senate committee meeting this week.

Members of the General Assembly are fighting back against medical misinformation.

Ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine have not been proven effective to treat COVID-19. But they have supporters, and those supporters packed a Senate committee room at the Capitol this week. They were there to advocate in favor of a bill prohibiting the Board of Medicine from taking disciplinary action against doctors who prescribe them to treat COVID-19.

Senator Siobhan Dunnavant is a Republican from Henrico and the only medical doctor in the General Assembly. She supports the bill.

"This is something that needs to be reviewed between a patient and a doctor," she says. "And there should be no obstructions to prescribing these medications."

Critics say using ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID-19 is basically junk science, and any doctor who prescribes them deserves to be disciplined by the Board of Medicine. Democrats rejected the bill on a party line vote. Senator Louise Lucas is a Democrat from Portsmouth and the chairwomen of the Senate Health Committee. She had to call security to clear the room after the vote.

"I would ask that you would very politely leave the room so that others might come in so that their bill could be heard," Lucas said. "Thank you very much."

"My husband is in the hospital right now,” a woman said to Lucas.

"I'm sorry, ma’am," she replied. "This bill is passed by indefinitely. Could those of you who are here on that bill please leave the room?”

A man replied, “Boo.”

"This is too important of a topic,” a woman said.

The drama may not be over just yet. Next week, the same committee will hear a similar bill to prohibit vaccine mandates and discrimination based on vaccine status.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.