JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — A bill passed this week by the Missouri Legislature would prevent state licensing boards from disciplining doctors who prescribe the controversial off-label drugs ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine to their patients.

The measure also would prevent pharmacists from questioning doctors who prescribe the drugs unless the patient or doctor asks about the drugs' effectiveness, The Kansas City Star reported.

The two drugs have become controversial after some doctors began prescribing them to COVID-19 patients. Critics note the Food and Drug Administration has not approved either drug for that use, and argue the drugs are potentially dangerous for humans.

Sen. Rick Brattin, a Harrisonville Republican, said Thursday he added the provision to a larger bill on professional licensing because he had spoken to doctors afraid of losing their licenses for prescribing the drugs.

Rep. Patty Lewis, a Kansas City Democrat who was on the committee that handled the bill, said medical licensing boards already would not punish a doctor for prescribing a drug lawfully.

She said Democrats agreed to the language to satisfy some hard-right conservatives in the Senate and ensure the larger bill passed.

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