Doctor Abigail Hemken addressed the crowd in Des Moines on Saturday at the Worldwide Freedom Rally. Hemken opened by making it clear her views are her own and in no way reflect her employer.
She said as she started treating COVID last summer, her friend shared an article on Facebook about hydroxychloroquine and how it was being used to treat COVID.
“I read it and I thought, ‘Hey, we use this medicine all over the world, right? We use it to treat malaria. We use it for prophylaxis for malaria. It’s over the counter in a lot of countries.’ Dr. Harvey Risch did an article summarizing the science behind it. This is awesome. We’re in a global pandemic and I have a medication that I can use for early outpatient treatment for COVID because I am not OK with saying, ‘Hey, wait until you’re sick enough to go to the ICU and then come to the hospital.’ That is absolutely ridiculous. What other diseases do we do that? We don’t do that.”
Hemken noted doctors give Tamiflu for influenza to shorten the disease forced by 24 hours.
“I’m like, ‘Hey, I can do better than that,'” she said. “So I started treating patients. Data came out on Ivermectin and I started using Ivermectin. Talk about divine appointments — God led me to one of my mentors from residency who was also using treatment. I said, ‘Hey, this is actually working.’ She said, ‘Yes, this actually works. We’re having good success with it.’ And so, I started treating my patients and had great results.”
She talked with doctors all over the United States who were being threatened for treating COVID and being told they couldn’t use Ivermectin or hydroxychloroquine because they’re being told it’s not safe.
“This drug is older than I am,” she said. “If people take it twice a day every day for chronic problems, why can I not use it for COVID? Even if you don’t think that it works we know that it’s safe — decades of safety data.”
Hemken told her patients about the medication, provided the safety profile, explained how it is used for COVID and what the data suggests. She also let patients know it would be an off-label use.
“So, they have informed consent. They have the ability to choose,” she said. “A lot of people choose that. Not everybody chooses that and I think that’s fine. We know that if you’re young and healthy and have no comorbidities, you usually do just fine with COVID. But for higher-risk patients, the sooner we treat a viral infection, the better. And I think that doctors need to have the choice to have that conversation with our patients.”
She was finding out as well that pharmacies were refusing to fill prescriptions for patients. They would ask why she was prescribing it.
“Which I’ve never been asked before,” she said. “When I say COVID they say, ‘Yeah, we can’t do that.’ How is that OK? How can you just not fill that medication? It’s absolutely ridiculous. I love pharmacists. Pharmacists are a huge help. But when they refused to fill my prescriptions, when they started to refuse other doctors’ prescriptions — they’re stepping over a line. They should not be able to do that.”
Hemken said for those considering taking the vaccine, it’s important they realize there are options available.
“Early outpatient treatment may affect your decision to take the vaccine,” she said. “If you’re going to take the vaccine, you need to have the conversation with your doctor. Informed consent is huge — what is the safety data, what are the long-term benefits, what are my chances of dying of COVID, what are the side effects of the vaccine?
“By vaccine, I mean new injection, right, because it’s a different thing. But if you want to take that, OK. But if you don’t want to take that, you need to be able to not take you need to be able to not take that. So, I hate that people are being forced to take that. I hate that people are not getting informed consent.”
She has asked patients who already received the vaccine if they realized they could still get COVID.
“They’re like, ‘Nobody ever told me that,'” she said. “I think it’s hugely important for physicians to have that freedom to prescribe medications — off-label use. And, number two, give informed consent to their patients and let their patients choose.”