The Senate Health Committee will hold a public hearing on Wednesday on legislation that would protect doctors with alternative views on COVID-19 from retaliation by physicians’ licensing boards.

Senate Bill 312 (SB312) is sponsored by Sens. Arthur Orr (R-Decatur) and Jim McClendon (R-Springville).

It has been almost two years since the first Alabamian was diagnosed with COVID-19. Most of those diagnosed with the coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, were told to isolate at home and take plenty of fluids and suffer through their symptoms as best they could unless it got so severe that they needed to be hospitalized due to breathing problems or other severe complications.

That worked for most of the 1,289,727 Alabamians diagnosed with the coronavirus, but for some, that early diagnosis progressed into a full-blown case of COVID-19 (the condition caused by a coronavirus infection).

Currently, just 241 Alabamians are being treated for complications from COVID-19 in the hospital, but over the course of the pandemic, that number has risen and fallen dramatically multiple times. Some 2,961 were hospitalized with COVID-19 as recently as Jan. 26.

A number of physicians in the state hold alternative views on the treatment of COVID-19 other than those authorized by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and given emergency approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Many of these doctors follow protocols recommended by nationally renowned Dr. Peter McCullough. The Concerned Doctors of Alabama is one group that has advocated for allowing doctors to use alternative early treatments for COVID-19. Some of these alternative treatments include hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin – both cheap, widely available drugs pre-COVID-19. Even when their physician prescribed off-label use of these drugs, often their pharmacy refused to fill that prescription or the hospital refused to administer it because powerful authorities have dismissed these treatments and have made obtaining these drugs artificially difficult. Doctors who have dared try to treat COVID-19 alternatively have often been ostracized by fellow doctors and threatened with the loss of their license to practice medicine.

SB312 is an attempt by the Legislature to address these problems.

Focus on America is a grassroots conservative group that is advocating for medical freedom and passage of SB312.

According to Focus on America, SB312 “Protects physicians’ licenses when treating for COVID-19. Doctors can feel free to provide true informed consent to patients in regards to ALL forms of treatment for COVID-19. The bill provides for pharmacies to fill medications and therapies as prescribed for COVID-19 and it provides informed consent for all therapies pertaining to COVID-19.

“We have a chance to pass this bill out of the Senate Healthcare Committee TODAY!,” Focus on America released in a statement.
“Alabama citizens should have medical choices and not be sent home to die.”

According to the synopsis, “This bill would prohibit an occupational licensing board from taking adverse action against a physician who recommends a COVID-19 treatment that is not FDA-approved. This bill would require a patient's written, informed consent to receive a physician's recommended COVID-19 treatment if the treatment is not FDA-approved. This bill would require pharmacies to fulfill prescriptions that are not FDA-approved to treat COVID-19. This bill would require health care facilities to provide a patient's requested off-label COVID-19 treatment. This bill would provide a cause of action against an occupational licensing board, pharmacy, or health care facility that violates the provisions of this bill. This bill would also provide that a health care facility, pharmacy, and licensing board that complies with this bill is immune from civil liability related to certain COVID-19 treatments."

There is a public hearing on SB312 in Room 304 of the State House at 9:30 a.m.

Thursday will be day 23 of the 2022 Alabama Regular Legislative Session. There is a maximum of eight legislative days left in the session.

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