More doctors across the country are pushing back against fringe members of the medical community for spreading COVID-19 misinformation and touting unproven treatments.
Over the weekend, nearly 100 physicians in Alaska signed onto a letter urging the state medical board to investigate doctors in the state who have promoted vaccine skepticism and pushed unproven treatments, namely the antiparasitic drug ivermectin and the antimalaria drug hydroxychloroquine.
Merijeanne Moore, a private-practice psychiatrist in Anchorage, told Anchorage Daily News that she wrote the letter in response to an event last month called Alaska Early Treatment Medical Summit. The event featured prominent out-of-state vaccine skeptics as well as at least two Anchorage doctors steeped in vaccine skepticism and misinformation.
The involvement of local doctors is of “grave concern,” Dr. Moore wrote. She quoted prominent medical associations who stated that “providing misinformation about a lethal disease” is “unethical, unprofessional and dangerous.”
Dr. Leslie Gonsette is an internal medicine hospitalist and among the dozens of Alaska doctors who signed onto Moore’s letter. She told AND she was concerned by the involvement of local doctors. “It’s very shocking to see that the very people that are supposed to care for our community are actually pushing this agenda and indirectly actually causing deaths,” Gonsette said.
A website associated with the summit posted a response to Moore’s letter, blasting the doctor’s concerns. “Our own good doctors are now under attack from the establishment doctors who are attempting to take medical licenses away through the Alaska Medical Board,” the unsigned post reads. “These providers promote the current so called ‘best practices’ that leave few options other than COVID vaccines and if sick enough, hospitalization.”
The website, which provides no contact information, urged its audience to contact the state medical board to defend their “hero doctors” against the “medical industrial complex.” The post also directed people to complain to the medical board about lack of access to ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine from pharmacies and hospitals.
Alaska isn’t the only state seeing confrontations among doctors over misinformation-spewing medical providers. In Texas, ear, nose and throat doctor Mary Bowden had her privileges at Houston Methodist Hospital suspended after publicly criticizing vaccine mandates and promoting ivermectin, according to The Washington Post.
In a tweet Friday, Houston Methodist’s Twitter account said Dr. Bowden “is spreading dangerous misinformation which is not based in science” and that her opinions are “harmful.” The health care facility also noted that Bowden had reported being vaccinated herself.
In Washington last month, the state’s medical commission suspended a physician assistant’s license for promoting and prescribing ivermectin as a cure for COVID-19. An Oregon doctor also lost his license last month after disregarding COVID-19 mandates, spreading misinformation about masks, and overprescribed opioids. In Connecticut, a doctor had her license suspended for giving out fake vaccine and mask exemption forms. And earlier this year, a California doctor surrendered his license after claiming COVID-19 was caused by 5G.
Though medical communities in many states have faced misinformation from within, these providers are clearly in the slim minority. Survey data released by the American Medical Association in June found that more than 96 percent of physicians had been vaccinated against COVID-19, and many of the unvaccinated at that time were planning to get their shots.