Physician argues with Hawaii lawmakers over stance on COVID-19

Dr. Lorrin Pang, the state’s health director for Maui, strikes back against state lawmakers who last week called for his dismissal for his involvement in a group that spread misinformation about COVID-19 and vaccines and statements he made the Media supporting the use of the controversial drugs ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID-19.

Federal and state health authorities have repeatedly warned that the drugs have not been shown to be effective in treating COVID-19 and could cause serious harm. They also fear the drugs will be advertised as an alternative to the vaccine, which has been shown to be safe and effective against the virus.

In addition to requests from state lawmakers to fire him, the Hawaii Medical Board filed a complaint against Pang, which jeopardized his medical license.

Pang said in a detailed statement submitted to the media on Tuesday that such actions defy the spirit of aloha. It is not clear whether the statement relating to pang in the third person should be attributed to a speaker.

“Unfortunately (Pang) now has to react publicly after so much damage has been done. How can we stand by our decisions when decision makers try to silence experts without even asking for input? ”According to Pang. “Did we forget to politely ask questions before acting? Officials should never be bullied. That is not aloha. “

Pang implies that he is a whistleblower under attack by lawmakers.

“To ruthlessly persecute a medic who has saved countless lives without verifying the facts is ruthless,” he said. “The obstruction at the whistleblower level by the legislature is a potential violation of longstanding FDA guidelines.”

Pang says that “the right of doctors to make medical decisions is at stake here,” in line with the Food and Drug Administration’s guidelines on off-label drug prescribing.

“It is irresponsible, inappropriate, and possibly criminal for lawmakers to obstruct this well-defined FDA process,” Pang said.

Pang stressed that he himself had never prescribed ivermectin or any other off-label drugs to treat COVID-19 and that he did not consider the use of the drugs for “early treatment” to be a realistic alternative to vaccination. He also reiterated his ardent support for vaccinating people against COVID-19.

Still, he said restricting doctors’ use of the drugs to treat COVID-19 would be detrimental to the medical profession.

“DR. Pang says he cannot currently endorse hydroxychloroquine or ivermectin as effective treatments for COVID-19, but doctors are looking for safe doses, even off-label,” Pang said Experts who help suppress or silence limit the scientific advancement of society. Moreover, when it relates to medical science and public health, it is potentially dangerous. “

However, the FDA has a dedicated webpage on “Why You Shouldn’t Use Ivermectin to Treat or Prevent COVID-19”. The agency has also warned against using hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID-19.

On Tuesday, the American Medical Association, the American Pharmacists Association, and the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists issued a joint statement saying they “put an immediate end to the prescribing, dispensing, and use of ivermectin for the prevention and treatment of COVID-19 Demand the outdoors “. a clinical study. “

The drug is widely used as a de-wormer for animals, but has also been used to treat parasites in humans. At the national level, there are growing concerns about a minority of doctors who have prescribed the drug, as well as people turning to pet stores to get ivermectin, which is intended for animals.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, prescriptions for ivermectin nationwide have increased from about 3,600 per week before the pandemic to more than 88,000 per week as of mid-August.

Senator Roz Baker (D-West Maui-South Maui), who last week called for Pang’s release in Senate statements, said she wasn’t surprised Pang “shoots out”.

“But I’m not going to befriend him,” she said via email. “I stand by my statements and have fulfilled my duty of care before I made my statements in the Senate.”

House spokesman Scott Saiki, who also called on Governor David Ige and the Department of Health to fire Pang, reiterated that the governor should take action.

“The governor must decide whether he would like a district health officer to deliver messages that violate the CDC and other leading medical experts,” Saiki said. “And he has to make a quick decision.”

Pang is a civil servant, so he can’t just be fired. However, state employers have other options, e.g. B. Taking someone on administrative leave or reassigning them.

While Pang’s statement addressed his previous comments to the press on ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine, it omitted any mention of the Pono Coalition for Informed Consent, which he recently co-founded and which he has apparently split from.

Pang said he was a private individual involved with the group and disagreed with all of its members’ views. He said he joined the group to foster dialogue between different viewpoints and was on the side of medical science.

However, members of the group have spread conspiracy theories and misinformation about the pandemic and vaccines on social media and public testimony before the University of Hawaii Regents Committee regarding vaccine requirements for college students.

Lawmakers said its participation in the group was a problem in itself, which could give credibility to dangerous misinformation about vaccine safety.

New cases

Meanwhile, Hawaii Department of Health officials reported 13 new coronavirus-related deaths and 455 new confirmed and probable infections across the state on Wednesday, bringing the state’s total since the pandemic started to 602 deaths and 63,957 cases.

The most recent deaths included nine residents of Oahu and four residents of Maui, state health officials said in an email.

One woman from Oahu was in her 70s and eight men from Oahu between the ages of 30 and over 80, all of them had previous health conditions. Eight of Oahu’s residents all died in the hospital, with the exception of one man who died in a care facility, state health officials said.

On Maui, a woman over 80 died at home from underlying illnesses, while three other men between the ages of 50 and 79 died in hospital with underlying illnesses, state health officials said.

The 455 new COVID-19 cases reported today include a partial count due to an interruption in the electronic laboratory reporting system on Monday, said Brooks Baehr, administrative assistant with the Department of Health’s COVID-19 and Pandemic Response.

“The Ministry of Health assumes that cases that have not yet been reported will be included in the case count in the next 24 to 48 hours,” said Baehr.

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