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Utah Legislature Passes Bill Giving Immunity To Doctors Prescribing Unproven Drugs for COVID-19

Photo of the Utah state capitol building.
Brian Albers
Utah legislators passed a bill granting immunity to health care providers that give patients experimental drugs to treat diseases causing a public health emergency.

The Utah Legislature passed a bill Friday granting immunity from lawsuits to health care providers that give their patients experimental drugs to treat diseases causing a public health emergency. The immunity also covers any medication used for a different purpose than the Food and Drug Administration has approved it for. 

House Minority Leader Brian King said he’s concerned the bill gives a one-size-fits-all immunity.

“We have a court system in place for a reason,” King said. “The court system is to sort out on a case by case basis fault when there are allegations made about negligence or about wrongdoing.” 

But the bill’s sponsor, Republican Rep. Val Peterson, pushed back on that, arguing that the bill still allows courts to make those decisions.

“It still provides that if there is gross negligence that those things can still go to court,” Peterson said. “This bill has been narrowly crafted to deal with the situation that we see right now.” 

President Donald Trump and some state leaders have suggested the anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine could be an effective treatment against COVID-19. But there’s no medical evidence it works and there are potentially dangerous side effects. An antiviral drug, Remdesivir, is undergoing clinical trials to be used for COVID-19.

Sonja Hutson covers politics for KUER. Follow her on Twitter @SonjaHutson

Sonja Hutson is a politics and government reporter at KUER.
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